Links Onboard – Latest APAC Tax, Payroll & Labour Law Updates
Below is the latest issue of the Labour Law Insider, a quarterly update by Links. Our legislation update covers major tax, labour law, payroll and visa developments across Asia. It is designed to get you updated at-a-glance.
- Hong Kong
- Increase in Statutory Minimum Wage
- Hong Kong Public Hospitals Issue E-certificate for Sick Leave
- Applicants Required to Submit Criminal Records Upon Application of Talent Entry Visa Schemes
- Hong Kong Budget 2023/2024 – Highlights
- Mainland China
- China to Resume Issuing Visa for Foreigners
- Provinces in China Extend Marriage and Maternity Leave
- Singapore Increases Minimum Pay for Administrators and Drivers
- CPF Interest Rates for Q2 2023 Released
- Singapore Budget 2023 – Highlights
- Update in Government Paid Leaves
- CPF Account Closure for Non-Singaporean Citizens and Residents
- Verification of Certification for Employment Pass Applications and Renewals
- Foreign Barbers and Goldsmiths Can No Longer Be Hired, Deadline for Work Permit Renewals Extended
- SOCSO Hiring Incentives for Employers
- Changes to Individual Income Tax Rate
- Thailand Passes Work from Home Bill
- New Regulations on Social Insurance Allowance From 15 February 2023
- Amendments to Legislative Documents
- Adjustments to Procedure for Registration of Dependents from 1 January 2023
- Confederation of Labour on Supporting Trade Union Members and Employees
- Updates to List of Occupational Diseases Covered by Social Insurance As of 1 April 2023
- Second Home Visa Introduced to Attract Foreign Investors
- Adjustment of Working Time and Wages in Certain Business Sectors
- Additional Social Security Benefits for Migrant Workers
- India’s Unemployment Benefits Has Been Extended by 2 years
- New Income Tax Announced in 2023 Budget
- Labor Advisory No.04-23-Annual Establishment Report on Wages for CY 2022
- Lower Penalty for Companies Who Fail to Make SSS and GSIS Contributions
- Labor Advisory No.01-23: Guidelines for Prevention of Food and Waterborne Diseases in the Workplace
- Minimum Daily Wage Increased in 5 Regions
- Transfer of Program Administration and Management of Contracting Agreement From Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) to the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE)
- Gender Equality in the Workplace
- South Korea
- Monthly Subsidy for Seoul City Families Relying on Grandparents or Relatives for Childcare
- Increase in Health Insurance Premium
- E-9 Visa Holders Stay Permit Extended to 10 years
- New Arrivals Process For Live-In Migrant Workers
- Japan to Enact Law for Freelancers
- Japan to Increase Required Employment Rate for Disabled Workers
- Japanese Government Opens Portal Site for Employment-related Subsidies
- Paid Parental Leave Bill Passed in Australia
- Pay Hike for Workers Who Provide “Direct Care”
- Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Released
- Australia Launches Program for Hiring Employees with Disabilities
- Super Guarantee Rate Increase on 1 July 2023
- New Zealand
- Increase in Minimum Wage Starting 1 April 2023
- End of Tax Year Updates
Increase in Statutory Minimum Wage
Hong Kong is set to increase the statutory minimum wage from HK$37.5 to HK$40 starting 1 May 2023. The Minimum Wage Ordinance applies to every employee unless specified.
Hong Kong Public Hospitals Issue E-certificate for Sick Leave
As of 6 March 2023, all public hospitals in Hong Kong will issue electronic medical certificates to infected patients. Patients can download and share medical certificates on the ‘HA Go’ application and certificates will be stored for up to 2 years.
Applicants Required to Submit Criminal Records Upon Application of Talent Entry Visa Schemes
As of 22 February 2023, all applicants applying for Hong Kong’s latest visa scheme, Top Talent Pass Scheme, must declare their criminal records in their online application.
As of 26 February 2023, all applicants for other talent admission schemes are also required to declare whether they have any criminal records upon application.
Hong Kong Budget 2023/2024 – Highlights
Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary released the 2023/2024 budget on 22 February 2023. Some highlights of the announcement include:
Supporting the General Public and Senior Citizens:
- The government will disburse $5,000 electronic consumption vouchers to each eligible Hong Kong permanent resident and new arrivals aged 18 or above in two installments, in April 2023 and the middle of the year.
- The salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for the year of assessment 2022/23 will be cut down by 100%, subject to a ceiling of $6,000.
- Eligible social security recipients will be given an allowance equivalent to one-half of a month of the standard rate Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance, or Disability Allowance.
- The government also proposed to raise the tax deduction from 100% to 200% for the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) voluntary contributions made by employers for their employees aged 65 or above.
- An array of initiatives, such as the Top Talent Pass Scheme and Hong Kong Talent Engage aims to trawl for foreign talents.
- The Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB) will commence new projections in the middle of this year to help the Government formulate appropriate strategies.
- The government is set to introduce a new mechanism aimed to facilitate the re-domiciliation of companies to the city, particularly those with a business focus in the Asia‑Pacific region.
- The establishment of the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited (HKIC) has been proposed with the intention of optimizing fiscal reserves for economic development, attracting enterprises and investment, and facilitating industrial cooperation with the GBA sister cities.
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China to Resume Issuing Visa for Foreigners
China’s Notice on Further Adjustment of Visa and Entry Policies for Foreigners to China which took effect on 14th March 2023 has brought about more relaxed policies with regards to visa issuance for foreigners. Other changes to ease of travel into China include:
- Foreigners with valid visas issued before 28 March 2020 will be allowed to enter the country.
- Visa-free entry to the southern island province of Hainan and cruise tour groups at Shanghai ports will be reinstated.
- Visa-free entry to the southern province of Guangdong for tour groups of foreigners entering from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions will be restored.
Provinces in China Extend Marriage and Maternity Leave
As of February 2023, Chinese provinces are offering young newlyweds up to 30 days of paid leave in an effort to help the country’s declining birth rate.
The national minimum page marriage leave stands at 3 days, however, provinces may extend that amount to up to a month.
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Singapore Increases Minimum Pay for Administrators and Drivers
As of 1 March 2023, the Ministry of Manpower announced that Singapore’s 32,000 administrators and 5,000 drivers are up for a pay hike under the Occupational Progressive Wages (OPW).
Administrative assistants should now be earning a minimum of S$1,500 per month and general drivers who hold a Class 3 license or below must be earning a minimum of S$1,750 per month.
CPF Interest Rates for Q2 2023 Released
CPF members below the age of 55 will continue to earn interest rates of up to 3.5% per annum on their Ordinary Account monies, and up to 5% per annum on their Special and MediSave Account monies from 1 April to 30 June 2023.
Singapore Budget 2023 – Highlights
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister released the 2023 budget on 14 February 2023.
Some important highlights to take note of:
𝗖𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗙𝘂𝗻𝗱 (𝗖𝗣𝗙):
- To keep with the increased in salaries over the years, the Singapore Government has increased the maximum amount of CPF contributions payable for Ordinary Wages (OW).
- This is introduced in a form of a CPF transition scheme, to be spread across 3 years and completed by 2026.
- The maximum amount of CPF contributions payable for Ordinary Wages (OW) will be raised from SGD 6000 to SGD 8000 by 2026, while there will be no changes to the CPF annual salary ceiling, which is the ceiling that includes contributions from Additional Wages (AW).
- For senior workers above the age of 55 and up till 70, the CPF contribution rates will be raised by up to 1.5 percentage points effective 1st January 2024.
- To mitigate the cost to businesses, the Singapore government will provide a one-year CPF Transition Offset, being costs equivalent to half of 2024 increase in employer CPF contribution rates for every Singaporean and Permanent Resident worker above the age of 55 and up till 70.
- Additionally, the minimum monthly CPF payout for seniors on the Retirement Sum Scheme, will be increased to SGD 350 each month.
Update in Government Paid Leaves
The Singaporean government announced that effective as of 1 January 2024, paternity leaves will be doubled from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
Unpaid infant care leave for each parent with children under the age of 2 years will also be increased from 6 days to 12 days per year.
CPF Account Closure for Non-Singaporean Citizens and Residents
By 31 March 2024, non-Singaporean citizens and residents must close their CPF accounts and failure to do so will lead to the automatic closure of the account. Their CPF savings will be asked to move to their personal bank accounts.
Verification of Certification for Employment Pass Applications and Renewals
With the introduction of COMPASS from 1 September 2023 and renewals from 1 September 2024, applicants holding a post-secondary diploma and above will have to provide a verification proof in the EP application.
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Foreign Barbers and Goldsmiths Can No Longer Be Hired, Deadline for Work Permit Renewals Extended
In mid-march 2023, the Malaysian government announced that employers would no longer be able to hire foreigners as barbers and goldsmiths. These barbers and goldsmiths were told to renew their work visas one more time – by March – after which no more renewals would be given.
The government has now decided to extend the visa renewal deadline to June 2023, however it still sticks by its decision to freeze hiring foreigners for these sectors.
SOCSO Hiring Incentives for Employers
Through the 2023 National Budget, the government announced that there would be SOCSO contribution incentives for employers who hire graduates and individuals from vulnerable groups.
• RM600 per month for a period of 3 months for employers who hire 17,000 graduates (especially TVET).
• RM600 per month for a period of 3 months to employers who hire persons with disabilities, ex-convicts, homeless individuals and unemployed persons.
Changes to Individual Income Tax Rate
The budget also mentioned the following changes to the individual income tax rate:
- The tax rate for individuals in the RM35,000-RM100,000 income band will be lowered by two percentage points.
- The tax rate for individuals earning over RM100,000-RM1 million annually will be increased between 0.5 and two percentage points.
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Thailand Passes Work from Home Bill
As of February 2023, Thailand adopted the Work from Home Bill, the very first legislation governing WFH relationships between employees and employers. The amendment offers a regulatory framework that states the rights of both employees and employers to engage in remote work relationships.
The amendment of LPA B. E 2541 (1998) lets both employees and employers agree to work from home or work via other electronic methods. This agreement should have specified details including the remote work period, working hours and scope of work.
The employee has every right to refuse any communications with the employer after working hours, unless there is a written consent in advance.
Additionally, an employee working on a remote basis will enforce under the LPA.
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New Regulations on Social Insurance Allowance From 15 February 2023
As of 15 February 2023, the Ministry of Health issues new regulations on the social insurance allowance. This includes:
- Diseases for lump-sum social insurance allowance
- Employees having occupational accidents, diseases are entitled to proactively take medical assessment without waiting for 2 months
- Number of days off under social insurance regime but not exceeding 50 days
- Adjust dossier for health assessment for retirement, lump-sum social insurance allowance
- No leave certificate under social insurance regime with issuance request
- Adjustment of medical record of health assessment for retirement, lump-sum social insurance premium.
Amendments to Legislative Documents
As of 1 January 2023, individuals must prepare documents to prove dependent according to the guidance in Article 1 of Circular 79/2022/TT-BTC and send it to the income paying organization or tax authority where the dependent registration was initially submitted. This should not take place later than 3 months from the date of first dependent registration.
Adjustments to Procedure for Registration of Dependents from 1 January 2023
On 13 January 2023, the Ministry of Finance released Decision 40/QD-BTC announcing revised and supplemented administrative procedures in the field of Taxation and Customs under the management function.
Confederation of Labour on Supporting Trade Union Members and Employees
The types of support include:
- Support granted to trade unionists forced into reduction in their working hours
- Support granted to trade unionists temporarily suspended from execution of their labor contracts, or on a furlough or unpaid leave
- Support granted to trade unionists whose labor contracts are terminated while they are not eligible for unemployment benefits.
Updates to List of Occupational Diseases Covered by Social Insurance As of 1 April 2023
On 9 February 2023, the Minister of Health of Vietnam promulgated Circular No.02/2023/TT-BYT on amendments to Circular No.15/2016/TT-BYT on occupational diseases covered by social insurance.
According to the Circular, “occupational Covid-19” has been added to the list of occupational diseases covered by social insurance. As of 1 April 2023, there are a total of 35 occupational diseases covered by social insurance.
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Second Home Visa Introduced to Attract Foreign Investors
The new Second Home Visa that was announced in December 2022 will allow foreigners to stay in the country for 5 or 10 years. This visa is aimed at investors, travellers and elderly or retired tourists.
To simply the process, the visa only requires one application – meaning that foreigners may apply once for a visa, limited stay permit and re-entry permit so that when they have been allowed to enter Indonesia, the Second Home Limited Stay Permit will be published and sent to their emails.
Visa holders can also apply for the same visa for their children, spouse, or parents as dependents. The visa will cost Rp3 million per person and will be processed in 4 working days after payment.
You will have to provide the following documents with your application:
- Copy of a passport which is valid for a minimum of 36 months
- Proof of funds in foreigners’ or sponsors’ bank account that must be placed in Indonesian
government-owned banks of at least Rp2 billion or equivalent
- Recent colour photograph (4 cm x 6 cm) with a white background
- Curriculum vitae.
Adjustment of Working Time and Wages in Certain Business Sectors
Through a new regulation, the Ministry of Manpower has adjusted the working time and wages of a certain export-oriented labor-intensive industries. The Regulation came into force on 8 March 2023.
Under the Regulation, an adjustment of working time may be made to be:
- less than (i) 7 hours per day and 40 hours per week for 6 working days, or
- 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week for 5 working days
The adjustment of the working days shall be based on an agreement of the employer and the employee. With regard to wages, a company may adjust its employees’ wages to 75% of their current wages. Similar with the adjustment of the working time, the adjustment of wage is subject to an agreement of the employer and the employee.
Criteria to be met:
- a company shall have at least 200 employees
- the labour costs constitute at least 15% of the production costs
- production dependency on the order from the United States and countries in Europe which is proven by order request letters
The Regulation will apply to the following industries:
• textile and apparel;
• leather and leather goods;
• furniture; and
• children’s toys
Both the working time and wages adjustments shall be valid for 6 months as of the enactment of the Regulation (i.e., until 8 September, 2023).
Additional Social Security Benefits for Migrant Workers
Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah has issued Regulation of the Manpower Minister (Permenaker) Number 4 of 2023 on Social Security for Indonesian Migrant Workers to include several additional social security benefits for workers involved in work-related accidents, those who died, or stopped working due to old age.
Migrant workers will pay Rp.37,500 before starting their work, while the remaining amount of contribution will be paid according to their working agreement period. The migrant workers are required to pay Rp.108,000 if they have a 6-month working agreement; Rp.189,000 for a 12-month working agreement; and Rp.332,500 for a 24-month working agreement. If the term of the work agreement is more than 24 months, the workers have to pay Rp.13,500 per additional month.
The amount of pension insurance contributions does not change and is in accordance with the choice of each prospective migrant worker between Rp.50,000 to Rp.600,000.
The benefits of the social security program for migrant workers had been increased to cover 21 work risks from what was previously 14.
The government will provide:
- reimbursement of ticket fees for migrant workers who are placed not in accordance with the agreement;
- financial assistance to migrant workers dismissed unilaterally; and
- medical expenses assistance reaching a maximum of Rp50 million for migrant workers who are involved in work accidents
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India’s Unemployment Benefits Has Been Extended by 2 years
India’s Labour Ministry extended unemployment benefits under the Employee’s State Insurance Corporation for 2 years as of 20 February 2023. This is extended to help insured workers who might have been laid-off during the global pandemic.
New Income Tax Announced in 2023 Budget
Finance Minister of India announced on 1 February 2023 that the rebate limit in the new tax regime increased from Rs5 lakh to Rs7 lakh.
The new taxation regime is:
- Up to Rs3 lakh income = 0% tax
- From Rs3 lakh – Rs6 lakh = 5% tax rate
- From Rs6 lakh – Rs9 lakh = 10% tax rate
- From Rs9 lakh – Rs12 lakh = 15% tax rate
- From Rs12 lakh – Rs15 lakh = 20% tax rate
- Above Rs15 lakh = 30% tax rate.
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Labor Advisory No.04-23-Annual Establishment Report on Wages for CY 2022
Employers have been given more time to submit the Annual Establishment Report on Wages – submissions must be made only by 31st May 2023.
Private establishments must register, log in and submit their reports as of 31 December 2022 in the Annual Establishment Report on Wages online portal.
Lower Penalty For Companies Who Fail to Make SSS and GSIS Contributions
Per the ECC Board Resolution No. 22-12-36 in February 2023, the Employees’ Compensation Commission (ECC) has lowered the penalty for companies that fail to their remit contributions to the Social Security System (SSS) and Government Service Insurance Systems (GSIS).
Previously, the penalty was 2% per month from the date the contribution falls due until it is paid, apart from the contribution itself. The new penalty will now require the employer to pay the unremitted amount, and 6% per annum.
Labor Advisory No.01-23: Guidelines for Prevention of Food and Waterborne Diseases in the Workplace
Philippines’ Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Labour Advisory No.1 series of 2023 in January 2023, containing guidelines to prevent food and waterborne diseases in workplaces.
The DOLE requires employers to provide workers with free welfare facilities, such as an adequate supply of safe drinking water and sanitary and washing facilities.
Employers are also expected to necessary assistance and access to treatment for employees who are in need of immediate medical attention in cases of cholera, diarrhoea, or any food and waterborne diseases in workplaces.
Minimum Daily Wage Increased in 5 Regions
Starting 1st / 2nd January 2023 (depending on region), the daily minimum wage in certain regions across the Philippines has been hiked. Each region’s wage increase is as follows:
• Cordillera Administrative Region (all provinces including Baguio City) – PHP400
• Cagayan Valley – PHP400 for agriculture sector workers & PHP420 for non-agriculture, including service and retail establishments that employ up to 10 workers.
• Central Luzon – PHP344 for retail and service sectors and PHP409 for non-agriculture sectors. For the agriculture sector, plantation workers should get at least PHP394 while non-plantation employees are to be paid at least PHP382.
• Eastern Visayas – PHP375 for non-agriculture sectors, including retail and service with more than 10 worker, and PHP345 for retail and service establishments with up to 10 workers, agriculture sector, and cottage and handicraft industries.
• Davao – PHP443 for industrial, commercial, retail and service companies with more than 10 workers; PHP428 for retail and service establishments with up to 10 workers; and PHP438 for the agriculture sector. Establishments with up to 10 workers are set to increase their employees’ minimum daily wage to PHP443 by 1st April 2023.
Transfer of Program Administration and Management of Contracting Agreement From Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) to the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE)
The program administration and management of contracting arrangements as well as its IRR have been transferred from the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) to the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE).
Other functions delegated under DO 174, Series of 2017 such as processing of registrations, the conduct of inspections, revocation or cancellation of registration, monitoring and reporting, among others, shall continue to be performed by the appropriate DOLE Regional Office.
Gender Equality in the Workplace
All employers are reminded to ensure gender equality by considering the diversity in the workplace through the implementation of laws, policies and programs that:
• Uphold the principles of equal pay for equal work and access to work-related resources;
• Consider the protection of women workers from risks and hazards in the workplace;
• Facilitate women employees’ access to benefits such as maternity leave, solo parent leave, leave for victims of violence against women and special leave for women;
• Provide facilities and benefits for maternal functions such as lactation breaks and stations and flexible work schedule for pregnant women;
• Ensure women protection against sexual harassment; and
• Recognize, protect, fulfil, and promote women’s rights.
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Monthly Subsidy for Seoul City Families Relying on Grandparents or Relatives for Childcare
Starting August 2023, the Seoul city government will grant a monthly subsidy of KRW300,000 per child who relies on grandparents or relatives for childcare duties of 40 hours or over. Working parents who have a 2 year old or younger child, earning a monthly income lesser than KRW6.65 million is also eligible for the scheme.
Seoul city is also set to provide up to KRW600,000 for working parents going on parental leave starting September 2023.
Increase in Health Insurance Premium
The health insurance premium rate increased from 6.99% to 7.09% starting 2023.
E-9 Visa Holders Stay Permit Extended to 10 years
For migrant workers fluent in Korean in South Korea on a non-professional visa and have worked long enough to meet the requirements for occupational proficiency, the Government increased the stay permit to 10 years.
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New Arrivals Process For Live-In Migrant Workers
Once migrant workers arrive in Taiwan, they will be picked up by Ministry of Labor representatives and be taken to Taoyuan or Kaohsiung. They are expected to attend an 8-hour orientation course over 2 days with free lodging. During their time there, they will be issued with employment permits, alien resident certificates (ARC), national health insurance (NHI) cards, and enrolment in occupational accident insurance.
Provided they have their own bedroom and bathroom and consistently test negative for COVID-19, the workers can be picked up by their employers or labour brokerage companies on the third day and permitted to start working right away.
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Japan to Enact Law for Freelancers
Japan has drafted guidelines to pass a new law that will afford better protection to freelancers.
Among the changes that it will bring about include:
- The requirement to have paper or digital records that include job descriptions and the amount of compensation
- Other terms and conditions & deadlines
- Protection for not only freelancers but also contracting firms.
Japan to Increase Required Employment Rate for Disabled Workers
In January 2023, the government also announced its plans to increase the employment rate for disabled workers. A panel with the labour ministry plans to boost the rate from what it currently stands at – 2.3% – to 2.5％ by 2024 and 2.7% by 2026.
In Japan, companies with a workforce of 43.5 employees or more are obliged to hire people with disabilities.
Japanese Government Opens Portal Site for Employment-related Subsidies
The Government of Japan opened a dedicated portal on 3 April 2023 to promote electronic applications for employment-related subsidies. With this, the Government of Japan intends to gradually switch from paper applications to electronic applications for subsidies.
The portal site is located on the website of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
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Paid Parental Leave Bill Passed in Australia
The Paid Parental Leave Amendment Bill (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) 2022 was passed for a fairer paid parental leave scheme (PPL scheme) for families in Australia. Pre-claim can be submitted up to 3 months before the expected date of birth or adoption to ensure no delays and pre-claims will be open from the end of March 2023.
The scheme, effective 1 July 2023, explains that the single Paid Parental Leave scheme will include:
- Flexible 20-week entitlement for working parents
- Introducing a new family income test of AU$350,000 per annum
- Easing the process of claims by removing certain terms
- Allowing 2 weeks of the scheme for each parent
- Increasing flexibility for parents to choose how they take paid parental leave and transition back to work.
Pay Hike for Workers who Provide “Direct Care”
Australia announced that starting 30 June 2023, classification workers in aged care will receive a pay hike by 15%. Direct care workers include registered and enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing, personal care and healthcare workers.
Paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave Released
Beginning 1 February 2023, all employees (full-time, part-time and casual) of large or medium-sized businesses are eligible to 10 days of paid family and domestic leave within a 12 month period. Small businesses have until 1 August 2023 until this comes into force for them to give them an adjusting period time. The leave will renew per annum and cannot be accumulated.
Australia Launches Program for Hiring Employees with Disabilities
There are 2.1 million Australians with disability of working age, however, only 53.4% are employed. The government has set aside AU$3.3 million for the Pilot Disability Employment Program.
Super Guarantee Rate Increase on 1 July 2023
The super guarantee rate will increase from 10.5% to 11% starting 1 July 2023. This means that updates to payroll programs and systems to incorporate these changes will be required.
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Increase in Minimum Wage Starting 1 April 2023
New Zealand is set to increase its minimum wage by NZ$1.50 per hour. The new minimum wage is NZ$22.70 per hour.
End of Tax Year Updates
The tax year is from 1 April to 31 March. After the end of the tax year, the IRD works out if you’ve paid the right amount of tax, if you have tax to pay, or if you’re due a refund.
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