Employment Support Scheme ("ESS") - Official website now available

The official website can be found here. Link to online application will be available for use from 25 May 2020 (7:00 am) next Monday to 14 Jun 2020.

During and after the vetting of applications, the ESS Secretariat and/or its processing agent will vet and conduct sample verification of the information submitted by employers, and conduct on-site checking at those employers’ offices.

List of employers who have received subsidies, the total number of employees benefited and the amount of subsidies, will likely be made public to enable monitoring by employees concerned and the society. If employers fail to use all the wage subsidies to pay wages of their employees in the same month, Government will claw back the unspent balance of the subsidies.

If the number of employees on the payroll in any one month of the subsidy period (ie Jun, Jul and Aug 2020 for first trench of payment) is less than the number of employees (whether paid or unpaid) in Mar 2020, employers will have to pay a penalty to the Government. You may find out more details from the said website.

Frances Chan
19 May 2020

COVID-19 Hong Kong Economic Relief Measures

The HKSAR Government has announced a package of measures to support Hong Kong individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Read this document to understand the details.

Funding application for the second round of the Anti-epidemic Fund and other relief measures was approved by the Legislative Council Finance Committee on 18 April 2020.
Read more information at news.gov.hk

BVI Update

Please note that notice has been published in the BVI Gazette on 28 June 2019 advising that the date for compliance by companies incorporated before January 2019 has been extended to 1 October, 2019 (from 30 June 2019).

Employment related updates

Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme

Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) is a policy initiative implemented by the Food and Health Bureau to regulate individual indemnity hospital insurance products, with voluntary participation by insurance companies and the public.

Effective from 1 April 2019, Hong Kong salaries taxpayer who or whose spouse is the policyholder of a policy issued under a Certified Plan of VHIS may claim tax deductions up to HK$8,000 per insured person for the premiums paid in relation to the Certified Plan. The insured person of the Certified Plan should be the taxpayer or any specified relatives, which cover the taxpayer's spouse and children, and the taxpayer's or his/her spouse's grandparents, parents and siblings.

Update on BVI Economic Substance requirements

The Economic Substance (Companies and Limited Partnerships) Act, 2018 (“Act”) came into force in the BVI on 1 January 2019. The Act requires legal entities conducting “relevant activities” to demonstrate adequate economic substance in the BVI.

Relevant activities include banking, insurance, fund management, finance and leasing, headquarters business, shipping business, holding business, intellectual property business and distribution and service centre business. Entities which are resident for tax purposes outside of the BVI and limited partnerships that do not have legal personality are excluded.

Industry practitioners are expecting Regulations, Rules or formal Guidance Notes to be issued so as to receive further details and a clearer picture on how to practically implement the economic substance requirements. It is anticipated that draft guidance may be available before the forthcoming Easter holidays and education campaigns will be launched in the BVI and Hong Kong afterwards.