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Published: 20:04, March 18, 2022 | Updated: 21:28, March 19, 2022
HK$10,000 subsidy to help Hong Kong's needy jobless
By Zeng Xinlan
Published:20:04, March 18, 2022 Updated:21:28, March 19, 2022 By Zeng Xinlan

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks during a news conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong, March 9, 2022. (PETER PARKS / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)

HONG KONG – A one-time HK$10,000 ($1,280) subsidy will be granted to each of Hong Kong’s unemployed amid the raging fifth wave of coronavirus infections, benefiting about 300,000 people, officials announced on Friday. 

The program, Temporary Employment Relief, targets those who were laid off or suspended from work during the city’s worst wave of COVID-19 to date. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said at her daily COVID-19 news conference on Friday that the relief involves HK$3 billion as part of the sixth round of the HK$27 billion Anti-epidemic Fund

READ MORE: HK govt to launch 2nd ESS to stabilize battered job market

Doris Ho Pui-ling, head of the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office, said the same day that to be eligible for the HK$10,000 subsidy, applicants must have been unemployed for at least 30 consecutive days since the end of December, when the fifth wave began, and earned a monthly salary of HK$2,700 to HK$30,000 before losing their jobs. 

Part-time and self-employed workers can also apply for the subsidy with no industry restrictions 

The program will accept applications starting on March 23 through April 12. Most eligible people should receive the subsidy three to four weeks after submitting an application. 

Employees who were on unpaid leave in 15 types of businesses temporarily closed because of current regulations — including fitness centers, beauty parlors and cinemas - as well as in restricted industries such as catering are also eligible for the subsidy. 

Part-time and self-employed workers can also apply for the subsidy with no industry restrictions. All are subject to the salary cap of HK$30,000 a month. 

Those who have accepted casual works during the unemployment period to make a living will be handled with leniency in their application, Ho added. 

The relief measures comes amid a five-month high unemployment rate of 4.5 percent for the period between December and February, rising by 0.6 percentage points compared with the previous three-month rolling period ending in January, Census and Statistics Department data showed on Thursday. The figure represents an increase of the city’s jobless population by 22,700, pushing the total to 157,900. 

READ MORE: Call for support as HK retail sales see double-digit decrease

Lam cautioned that the figure will be much worse from January to March because of the “most stringent social distancing measures”, which were implemented in January. 

To stabilize employment, Lam unveiled on Friday a second round of the Employment Support Scheme involving between HK$26 billion to HK$31 billion government spending, which was estimated to benefit 1.1 million to 1.3 million workers in the city. 

Employers affected by the ongoing fifth wave of COVID-19 infections are eligible for the new round of subsidies. Eligible workers whose monthly salaries are under HK$30,000 will be reimbursed HK$8,000 for a duration of three months, from May through July. 

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