Dear Labour Department,

I write to seek the following information regarding the Subsidy Scheme for Employment Agencies (“Scheme”):-

1. What proportion of the Anti-epidemic Fund is allocated to this Scheme?
2. In developing this Scheme, did the Anti-epidemic Fund Steering Committee engage in consultations with: (1) the Labour Department or other government bureaux; and (2) the public. If so, what were the contents and results of those consultations (i.e. please provide meeting minutes)?
3. If the same director governs multiple employment agencies, is every employment agency under that directorship eligible for a subsidy?
4. What are the vetting requirements under the Scheme application? What documentary proof is required?
5. When will employment agencies receive the subsidies? In what form? Are there conditions attached to the subsidies?
6. Employment agencies that ‘have submitted an application for licence renewal’ are eligible to apply for the subsidy. If the licence is not granted ultimately, will the subsidy be revoked? How is this implemented?

Yours faithfully,

Charlie

Labour Department

1 Attachment

Dear Charlie YEUNG,

        I refer to your request for information under the Code on Access
to Information (“the Code”) received by this Department on 11 June 2020 as
attached.

        Please be informed that your request is now under processing.
 According to para 1.16 of the Code, our department will inform you of the
latest progress of the request on or before 30 June 2020 (Tuesday).  In
the meantime, please contact the undersigned at 2115 3382 if you have any
enquiry.

Regards,
Kevin CHAN
Employment Agencies Administration
Labour Department

Labour Department

1 Attachment

Dear Charlie Yeung,

        I refer to your request for information under the Code on Access
to Information (“the Code”) received by this Department on 11 June 2020
(AIO 33/2020) as attached.  

2.        In light of the development of the coronavirus disease 2019
(“COVID-19”), the Government has been taking vigilant anti-epidemic
measures to contain the public health risk.  Having regard to the impact
of these measures on the livelihood of individuals and business operation,
the Government has rolled out two rounds of Anti-epidemic Fund (“AEF”) to
enhance Hong Kong's overall capability in combating the pandemic, and to
provide assistance or relief to enterprises and members of the public hard
hit by the pandemic or affected by anti-epidemic measures.  The total
commitment to AEF is $150,500 million.    The Government has also set up
the Anti-epidemic Fund Steering Committee (“Steering Committee”) chaired
by the Chief Secretary for Administration to consider and approve
proposals to be funded by AEF, as well as to monitor the implementation of
measures under AEF.

3.        Like many other businesses, the business of the employment
agencies (“EAs”) has also been adversely affected by the epidemic.  In
particular, the business of EAs that provide foreign domestic helper
(“FDH”) placement service has been greatly affected as some overseas
countries have suspended the processing of new and contract renewal
applications of FDHs.  At the same time, EAs that do not provide FDH
placement service have also been affected due to the economic downturn
brought by the epidemic and the worsening unemployment situation in Hong
Kong.  Various stakeholders, including EA associations and Legislative
Council Members reflected to the Government the hardship faced by the EA
industry and have called for financial assistance to the sector through
written submissions and meetings.  However, as the submissions and
discussions at meetings involved third party information which were not
intended to be further disclosed, we are unable to provide such
information pursuant to part 2.14 of the Code (The Code is available on
the Internet as a component of the GovHK. It can be accessed at
[1]http://www.access.gov.hk).  

4.        The Steering Committee endorsed without amendment the proposed
Subsidy Scheme for the Employment Agencies (“the Scheme”) developed by the
Labour Department (“LD”).  The commitment approved under the Scheme is
$117.28 million.  Under the Scheme, a one-off lump sum subsidy will be
granted to EAs with a valid licence issued by LD.  The subsidy will be
granted with reference to the number of valid main and duplicate
licence(s) held by an EA.  A subsidy of $50,000 will be granted for each
main licence of EAs which provide FDH placement service.  For EAs which do
not provide FDH placement service, a subsidy of $30,000 will be granted
for each main licence.  An additional subsidy of $10,000 will be granted
for each duplicate licence for branch office of both kinds of EAs.

5.        An EA eligible for applying for subsidy under the Scheme must
hold a valid licence issued by LD under section 52 of the Employment
Ordinance (Cap. 57) as at 31 May 2020, or must have submitted an
application for licence renewal to LD in accordance with Regulation 2 of
the Employment Agency Regulations (“EAR”) (Cap. 57A) as at 31 May 2020.
 An EA must hold a valid EA licence before the application is approved.
 If the validity period of the current licence of the EA is less than two
months as at the date of submission of an application for subsidy, the EA
should first submit an application for licence renewal to LD before
submitting an application for subsidy.

6.        The Scheme was open for application from 22 June 2020 to 21 July
2020.  In processing the applications, LD will ensure that the applicants
are able to meet the above application criteria, including checking
whether the EA holds a valid licence as required.  For EAs applying for a
subsidy of $50,000, the applicants are required to declare on the
Application Form of the Scheme that they had provided FDH placement
service on or before 31 May 2020.  LD will cross-check the declaration
with our internal records.  EAs may be required to submit documentary
proof to support their application as necessary.

7.        Under the Scheme, applicants may choose to receive the subsidy
by direct deposit into a bank account or by cheque payment.  In general,
subsidy will be disbursed to eligible applicants by direct deposit into
the bank account in about three weeks, or by cheque sent through the
Treasury in about five weeks after receipt of the completed Application
Form, subject to the timely provision of all required information and
documents.

8.        For the EA fulfilling the eligibility criteria of having
submitted an application for licence renewal in accordance with Regulation
2 of the EAR as at 31 May 2020, if, after the EA has submitted an
application for subsidy, the Commissioner for Labour subsequently decides
to revoke or refuse to renew the EA licence during the application period
(i.e. from 22 June 2020 to 21 July 2020), the application for subsidy will
not be approved.

9.        As provided under the Code, I would like to inform you of the
right to review, i.e. if you believe our Department has failed to comply
with any provision of the Code, you may write to ask our Department to
review the situation or consider lodging a complaint to The Ombudsman.
 The Ombudsman’s contact is

Address:        30/F., China Merchants Tower, Shun Tak Centre
        168-200 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong
Telephone:        (852) 2629 0555
Fax:        (852) 2882 8149

10.                Should you have any queries, please contact the
undersigned at 2115 3382.

Regards,
(Kevin Chan)
For Commissioner for Labour

References

Visible links
1. http://www.access.gov.hk/