Unions receive 47 complaints over wage subsidy

Local | 9 Jul 2020 1:59 pm

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions said it had received 47 complaints related to the Employment Support Scheme under the government’s anti-epidemic relief measures. 

Of the 47 complaints, the confederation said 28 percent involved employers who applied for the subsidy for but still asked workers to take unpaid leave, while 19 percent were related to companies laying off staff despite receiving the subsidy. Under the scheme, employers are supposedly obliged not to make redundancies and spend all subsidies on employees’ wages.

The HKCTU said the requirement for companies not to lay off staff is just a “beautiful misunderstanding,” pointing out that even if employers sack their staff, there are no penalties and employers can still make false reports and receive more subsidies. 

It also criticized that the scheme only guarantees employment instead of the workers, as it did not have a way of enforcing how employers used the subsidy. For example, companies may use a large portion of the money to pay their senior management, while lower-level staff may only benefit a small part. 

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