What are the points for attention for employing the elderly and middle-aged?
Employers may adopt flexible work arrangements with a view to establishing working conditions and environment suitable for attracting elderly and middle-aged persons to return to the job market having regard to the individual circumstances of their enterprises. Employers may arrange suitable work duties and procedures taking into consideration the ability, strength and physical condition of individuals. With life expectancy, health and educational attainment improving, and coupled with less physically demanding jobs nowadays, more mature persons would be able to stay longer in the labour force. Employers may review their policy on retirement from time to time to provide more employment opportunities for the elderly and middle-aged.
Employers should note that all employees are entitled to access to the terms and conditions of employment, and access to benefits, facilities or other services commensurate with their rank, duties, seniority, experience and any other special circumstances, irrespective their age.
According to the Employees' Compensation Ordinance, employers must take out employees' compensation insurance (ECI) to cover their liabilities under the laws. ECI premium is determined by risk assessment. Insurance companies in general will calculate the insurance premium by taking into account the underwriting risks of different industries/ occupations, the total earnings of employees and the factors such as: claims history of the employer concerned; occupational safety and health as well as risk prevention measures taken by the employer concerned; accident rate and risks to be undertaken in respect of the industry or occupation concerned; etc. The age of employees is not a major determining factor of ECI premium.
For details, please refer to the publications of "Promote Employment of Mature Persons - Friendly Employment Practices for Mature Persons" and "Know More about Taking out Employees' Compensation Insurance".
What are the eligibility criteria of employers applying for the on-the-job training (OJT) allowance?
Please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance".
How can employers enroll in EPEM?
When employers prepare to employ elderly and middle-aged job seekers, employers should register their full-time or part-time long-term vacancies with the Labour Department (LD) through completion of the "Vacancy Order Form" or via the "Interactive Employment Service" website and may indicate that they welcome applications from elderly and middle-aged job seekers. After the job vacancies are registered with LD, job seekers obtain vacancies information and proceed to applications through referrals of LD or directly to the employers, depending on the job application method selected by the employers.
When employers employ job seekers who are eligible for EPEM, they have to submit a completed "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training", together with copies of Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of Registration of A School or other recognised licence, to the Programme Office within (i) 3 months from the date when the job vacancy is posted at LD, and (ii) the first month after the commencement of employment of the job seekers. LD may request the employer to submit supporting documents on the salary and hours of work of the job (e.g. the signed employment contract) for examination. If the job seekers concerned have not yet registered at LD, employers should arrange them to register at any Job Centre as soon as possible.
After verification, LD will notify successful employers and employees by issuing a "Letter of Approval-in-Principle". Upon the receipt of the letter, employers shall commence the OJT according to the date specified.
Are there any prescribed industries and occupations under EPEM?
Employers who engage elderly or middle-aged job seekers aged 40 or above with an unemployment period of not less than 1 month within 1 year prior to the commencement date of employment to fill full-time or part-time (i.e. working 18 hours to less than 30 hours per week) long-term posts after the job vacancy is registered with the Labour Department, irrespective of their industries and occupations, are welcome to join EPEM. Employers are also required to meet certain requirements under EPEM. For details, please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance".
How to set the wage level if employers want to join EPEM?
The wage rate offered to the employees must comply with the Minimum Wage Ordinance and be no less favourable than the employment terms stated in the vacancy order displayed by the Labour Department.
How to identify eligible job seekers under EPEM?
To be eligible for EPEM, job seekers must be aged 40 or above at the time of employment and have an unemployment period of not less than 1 month within 1 year prior to the commencement date of employment. When employers employ job seekers who are eligible for EPEM but the job seekers have not yet registered with the Labour Department, employers should arrange the job seekers to register at any Job Centre as soon as possible.
Can employers employ eligible job seekers by other means of recruitment?
Yes. However, to be qualified for OJT allowance under EPEM, employers have to register the job vacancies with the Labour Department first. After the job vacancies are registered with the Labour Department (LD), job seekers obtain relevant job vacancy information through LD or other recruitment channels and proceed to applications through referrals of LD or directly to the employers, depending on the job application method selected by the employers. Employers then select and employ eligible job seekers. For application procedures, please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance"
Do the newly recruited employees have to sign any documents under EPEM after they are employed?
Participating employers have to submit a "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training" under EPEM. To apply for longer OJT period for a maximum of 6 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employees aged 60 or above, employers have to submit a "Training Plan" as well. Upon completion of the OJT, employers have to submit an "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form". The employees concerned have to sign on these documents as confirmation, and copies of the signed documents will be provided to them for reference.
How many applications can each employer submit?
Each company/organisation can submit a maximum of 80 "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" under EPEM for each quota year, i.e. 29 June to 28 June of next year.
Why is the registration quota being set as 80 submissions?
This aims for maintaining the quality of EPEM and better use of resources.
How does the Labour Department examine applications submitted under EPEM?
In addition to the examination of application forms and supporting documents, the Labour Department may conduct on-site inspections to the workplaces and require employers or employees to produce relevant documents, such as Business Registration Certificate, employment contracts, wage and attendance records, MPF records, training records, employer's return of remuneration and pensions and other information for examination.
How to formulate an OJT plan for the new recruits?
The main objective of OJT is to help the newly recruited elderly and middle-aged employees to adapt to the new working environment and acquire the essential job-specific skills through training. Employers engaging different positions (including elementary positions) are welcome to join EPEM, irrespective of their industries and occupations.
Employers have to assign experienced staff as the mentors to assist the new recruits within the specified OJT period. There is no restriction on the content and format of OJT but it should cover 4 mandatory items: (i) Company structure, business nature and human resources policy, (ii) Product and service knowledge, (iii) Employee's role and duties, (iv) Workflow, procedures, knowledge and skills of work, and at least two other selected items: (v) Occupational safety and health, (vi) Computer or equipment operations, (vii) Customer service skills, (viii) Workplace hygiene and cleanliness, and (ix) Other specified item of the company. Training plan can be formulated by employers based on the company business nature, job seekers' qualifications and job requirements.
Why each mentor cannot coach more than 10 employees at the same time?
This aims for maintaining the quality of EPEM and providing an effective OJT for the employees.
If employers intend to provide OJT to employees for 1 month, can application for one-month training allowance be made?
No. For the purpose of applying for training allowance under EPEM, employers have to provide OJT according to the specified period as approved by the Labour Department to the employees, which lasts for 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above in general.
If employers intend to apply for longer OJT period for the eligible job seekers under EPEM, what are the relevant procedures?
In general, OJT lasts for 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above. Subject to the approval of the Labour Department with assessment on the nature of the post and business, experience of the employees and mentors, mode and content of the training, etc., the OJT period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employees aged 60 or above for deserving cases.
Please note that according to our vetting criteria, the duration of OJT for certain posts, e.g. security guard, cleaning worker and general clerk, etc., is 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above.
What is the amount of OJT allowance offered to employers?
Under EPEM, employers engaging elderly job seekers aged 60 or above who are unemployed or have left the workforce may apply for an OJT allowance of up to $5,000 per month per employee; while employers engaging unemployed job seekers aged 40 to 59 may apply for an OJT allowance of up to $4,000 per month per employee. In general, OJT lasts for 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above. Subject to the approval of the Labour Department, the OJT period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employees aged 60 or above for deserving cases in which employers have to provide detailed information for vetting.
Upon completion of OJT by eligible employees under EPEM, the amount of OJT allowance offered to employers is as follows:
^ Age of employee at the commencement of employment.
* Under EPEM, "salary" means any remuneration expressed in monetary terms, payable by an employer to an employee, including any wages, overtime pay, commission, allowance (e.g. good attendance allowance), pay for taken leaves, holidays and rest days, and employee's contributions to Mandatory Provident Fund ("MPF scheme"), but excludes (i) reimbursement for actual expenses incurred by an employee; (ii) compensation for termination of employment (e.g. wages in lieu of notice and pay for untaken annual leave); (iii) year-end payment; (iv) gratuity; (v) payment of a gratuitous nature or payable at an employer's discretion (e.g. bonus/perquisite/ irregular payment / non-recurrent allowance); (vi) periodical payment arising from work injuries; (vii) an employer's contributions to MPF scheme; (viii) deductions (e.g. uniform deposits) without proof of repayment. Items (i) to (viii) stated in the above would not be taken into account for computing the amount of OJT allowance.
# Working 18 hours to less than 30 hours per week will be defined as part-time post.
How do employers apply for payment of OJT allowance?
Upon completion of the approved OJT by employees, employers shall submit a duly completed "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and the employee, no later than 1 month after the end of wage period for the last month of the OJT period or within 1 month after the employment has been terminated and the wage has been cleared to the employee. Upon verifying the information submitted, OJT allowance will be granted by the Labour Department to eligible employers in a lump sum by cheque.
If the employment ends before completion of the approved OJT period, can employers apply for training allowance and what are the relevant procedures?
No training allowance will be granted if the OJT period underwent by the employees is less than 1 month. For cases where the OJT period underwent is 1 month or above, the Labour Department reserves the right to grant OJT allowance proportionally. Employers who wish to apply for the training allowance should submit an "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and employee to the Labour Department for consideration within 1 month after the employment has been terminated and the wage has been cleared to the employee.
Under what circumstances will an application for OJT allowance be rejected?
The application for OJT allowance will be rejected if an employer:
Please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance" for relevant information.
What will employers benefit from EPEM?
The OJT allowance provided by EPEM can enrich the training resources of employers. Employers can also take the opportunity to formulate systematic and tailor-made training plans for the new recruits.
Are there any additional rules to be followed under EPEM if employers are contractors of government departments/statutory or public bodies?
If the employers are contractors of government departments/statutory or public bodies and the concerned tender contracts contain mandatory terms on employment conditions (such as wage rate and working hours) of non-skilled workers, the employers must observe such terms when job seekers are placed into these positions. The Labour Department may request employers to submit relevant documents for verification.
If the employment of the concerned employee has just been terminated by the previous contractor upon expiry of an outsourced service contract and is now engaged by the employer in the same position, the employer is required to submit a "Training Proforma".
What else should employers be aware of?
The employer and the employee shall provide true and accurate information. Provision of false or erroneous information for obtaining or intending to obtain any allowance under EPEM is liable to an offence. The Labour Department may refer the cases to other divisions of this department and/or other government departments/statutory bodies for follow-up.
For enquiries, please contact EPEM Hotline: 2150 6398 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.