How Hong Kong's 2018-19 budget proposals would affect the workplace, benefits

Hong Kong's 2018-2019 budget proposes a number of workforce and benefit-related initiatives including plans to ease admission rules for individuals with skills in short supply, create a life annuity scheme, and incentives for employee training.

Highlights of the budget's proposals include:

  • Revised admission arrangements aim to improve Hong Kong's attractiveness to foreign talent. A talent list identifying specific skill shortages will be finalized by mid-2018 by the Labour and Welfare Bureau.
  • A Life Annuity Scheme will be launched in mid-2018 by the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited with the objective of increasing financial planning options following retirement.
  • An increased subsidy ceiling of HKD $20,000 will apply to the Continuing Education Fund (CEF), up from HKD10,000 to encourage adults to follow continuing education and training courses. The upper age limit for CEF applicants will be increased to 70 years.
  • The rights of unskilled workers employed by government service contractors will be reviewed by the end of 2018. A cross-departmental working group will explore options for improving the employment conditions of outsourced unskilled workers.
  • The government will move to abolish the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) offsetting arrangement (Mercer Select Intelligence, 25 Oct 2017).
  • The government will subsidize employers participating in special employment programs for improving the employability of older and younger people and disabled workers (Mercer Select Intelligence, 5 Mar 2018).
  • A tax deduction will apply to individuals purchasing eligible health insurance for themselves and dependents. Details of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme have been published by the Food and Health Bureau (Mercer Select Intelligence, 5 Mar 2018). 

By Mercer's Alanis Hon, Fiona Webster, and Stephanie Rosseau | 6 Apr 2018