(To watch the full press briefing with sign language interpretation, click here.)
The Government today announced that the second tranche of the Employment Support Scheme (ESS) will invite applications from August 31 to September 13.
Eligible employers will receive wage subsidies for paying employee wages from September to November.
Eligible self-employed people who did not receive the $7,500 one-off lump-sum subsidy under the ESS’ first tranche can also apply in the same period.
Launched under the second-round of the Anti-epidemic Fund, the scheme provides time-limited financial support to employers to retain employees who may otherwise be made redundant.
In the second tranche, two major supermarket chains, Wellcome and PARKnSHOP, will have to offer discounts to non-governmental organisations and the underprivileged in return for wage subsidies they receive.
Big property management firms will also need to share a sum of money equivalent to at least 80% of the subsidies they receive with owners or owners’ corporations that engage their services.
At a press briefing this afternoon, Secretary for Labour & Welfare Dr Law Chi-kwong explained the rationale behind the new requirements.
Dr Law explained the Government designed the scheme to be very simple so that it can be processed in a relatively short period to offer the support badly needed by businesses.
“If we have to assess the extent of impact on individual companies in order for us to design the level of support to them, it will take months before we can offer the first subsidy to anyone who really needs the support.
“So instead of trying to draw a line, or instead of trying to assess the financial conditions of individual companies before we take this process to expedite the provision of the subsidy, we only selected these two particular sectors for very simple reasons, because it is very obvious.”
Dr Law said the Government has studied information from the Census & Statistics Department and knows how the businesses in these two industries have been performing in recent months.
“The two supermarket chains received more than $100 million of subsidy in the first round. And also some of these big estate management companies employ more than 1,000 employees and so the subsidy is also very substantial – well over $35 million in the first round.
“So we think that it’s sufficient and it’s manageable for us, without affecting the overall implementation of the scheme, to try to make it fairer to the community.
“The ESS aims to help employers to help the community, in particular employment. But there are definitely companies which have obtained this subsidy, which are not seriously affected, so there is some need for them to pay back to the community. So we have designed some very special procedures for these two sectors.”