Links Onboard – Latest APAC Tax, Payroll & Labour Law Updates
Below is the latest issue of Onboard, 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.
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- Hong Kong
- Approval of The Anti-Epidemic Relief Fund by the Finance Committee
- Maternity Leave to be Extended to 14 weeks
- Amendments to Discrimination Laws
- Maternity Leave Increased to 70 Days & 5 Days of Paternity Leave Added
- Statutory Minimum Wage of 32 Patacas Per Hour Introduced
- Employment-Related & Economic Stimulus Measures
- Further Taiwan Covid-19 Relief Measures
- Cash Reward Program for First Time Employees
- Fortitude Budget Announced as Fourth Budget Measure
- Recruitment Agencies Must Abide by New Licence Conditions Starting October 2020
- Adoption of the New Civil Code
- Hiring Incentive Programme (PenjanaKerjaya) Commences 15 June 2020
- Wage Subsidy Programme Expansion
- Additional Measures from Malaysia’s Economic Stimulus Package
- Revised List of Occupations for Foreigners
- Increase of Allowable Deductions for Personal Income Tax
- Internally Transferred Foreign Workers Do Not Need to Pay Health Insurance
- Social Protection Program & Cash-Intensive Program
- Revised National Holiday and Collective Leave 2020
- New Tax Regulations
- Covid-19 Relief Measures
- DOLE-AKAP Cash Assistance for Overseas Filipino Workers
- DOLE-DTI Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19
- Employment Adjustment Subsidy Expanded
- Minimum Wage Increases by 1.75%
- Temporary Cash Flow Boosts for SMEs
- Increase in Instant Asset Write-Off
- Victoria Passed Covid-19 Omnibus Regulations 2020
- End of Financial Year Finalisation
- JobKeeper Extension
- New Zealand
- Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme
- Temporary Changes to Parental Leave
- Extending Paid Parental Leave
- Keeping in Touch Extended
Approval of The Anti-Epidemic Relief Fund by the Finance Committee
Hong Kong has approved 2 rounds of The Anti-Epidemic Relief Fund. A mix of schemes and subsidies to help local businesses and residents. Schemes include:
- Employment Support Scheme (ESS)
- Distance Business Programme (D-Biz)
- Relief Measures for Construction Sector
- 20 Percent Fare Concession of MTR
- Green Employment Scheme
The relief fund covers many business sectors and varies accordingly.
Maternity Leave to be Extended to 14 weeks
The Legislative Council has passed a bill that will extend maternity leave by 4 weeks, taking the length from 10 to 14 weeks.
Employees who miscarry from 24 weeks after conception will be eligible for maternity leave, down from 28 weeks.
Government’s support funds for the additional 4 Weeks to be increased to HK80,000.
Expected to come into effect at the end of 2020.
Amendments to Discrimination Laws
Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 Comes into Force 19 June 2020, amending 4 existing anti-discrimination ordinances. This includes changes to:
- Sex Discrimination Ordinance
- Race Discrimination Ordinance
- Family Status Discrimination Ordinance
- Disability Discrimination Ordinance
Maternity Leave Increased to 70 Days & 5 Days of Paternity Leave Added
Maternity leave will be increased from 56 days to 70 days for Children born on or after May 26, 2020. The FSS will cover the additional 14 days for employers until May 25 2023.
Employees with a year or more service will be entitled to 5 days paid paternity leave. Effective from May 26 2020.
Statutory Minimum Wage of 32 Patacas Per Hour Introduced
Macau’s first-ever overall minimum wage law will take effect on 1 November 2020. The statutory minimum wage will be set at 32 patacas per hour.
Employment-Related & Economic Stimulus Measures
- Tax deductions for SMEs and residents
- SME Credit Guarantee Scheme
- One-off subsidy payment for SMEs
Economic Stimulus Measures:
- E-Vouchers of MOP3000 given out to residents
- Subsidised utility fees for firms
- Paid Occupational Training
Further Taiwan Covid-19 Relief Measures
Total NT$1.05 Trillion relief package will offer financial aid, employment assistance and tax breaks for businesses. Assistance measures include:
- Loans for SMEs
- Subsidy to supplement salaries
For more information on schemes please visit government websites.
Cash Reward Program for First Time Employees
Targets 2019 graduates aged below 29 who have been working for the same employer for the last 3 months.
Cash rewards of NT$20,000 will be given to each applicant if they’ve been working for a minimum of 3 months. Those that stay for 6 months will receive an additional NT$10,000.
Fortitude Budget Announced as Fourth Budget Measure
Singapore announced its fourth budget of the year to help the economy through Covid-19. Measures in the Fortitude Budget include:
- Extending the Job Support Scheme
- SGUnited Jobs & Skills Package
- Enhanced Hiring Incentives
- Cash Grants for SMEs to Offset Rental Costs
For more information on schemes please visit government websites.
Recruitment Agencies Must Abide by New Licence Conditions Starting October 2020
When recruiting on behalf of clients, agencies must:
- Brief their clients on fair recruitment requirements
- Make an effort to attract Singaporeans
- Consider candidates based on merit
- Must not withhold applications on the basis of age, race, nationality, gender, and disability
Effective from 1 October 2020.
Adoption of the New Civil Code
China has adopted a new Civil Code which will take effect on January 1, 2021. Companies will be required to:
- Prevent and prohibit sexual harassment
- Preserve the right to privacy and protection of personal information
Hiring Incentive Programme (PenjanaKerjaya) Commences 15 June 2020
Eligible employers will receive incentives for hiring local jobseekers.
- RM600 hiring incentive per month for 6 months for hiring job seekers seeking apprenticeships or traineeships
- RM800 hiring incentive per month for 6 months for employing job seekers aged 40 and below
- RM1000 hiring incentive per month for 6 months for employing job seekers aged 40 and above
- RM1000 hiring incentive per month for 6 months for employing job seekers aged 40 and above
- RM1000 hiring incentive per month for 6 months for employing job seekers with disabilities
Wage Subsidy Programme Expansion
Companies will be subsidised up to RM1,200 per employee per month depending on the size of the enterprise. Programme duration is for 3 months from 1 April-31 December (closing date: 15 September 2020).
Additional Measures from Malaysia’s Economic Stimulus Package
3 Packages totalling 280 billion ringgit have been announced to stimulate the economy. This includes:
- Tax benefits
- Rental waivers/reductions
- Moratorium on loan repayments
- Other discounts
Revised List of Occupations for Foreigners
From 1 July 2020 foreigners will be permitted to work in 12 professions previously reserved for Thai locals. Professions include agriculture and construction work. Foreigners with professional licences recognised in Thailand will be able to work in civil engineering, architecture, and accountancy. These three occupations (civil engineering, architecture and accountancy) were being opened to foreigners as required by an Association of Southeast Asian Nations agreement on free labour migration.
Increase of Allowable Deductions for Personal Income Tax
Resolution to change personal income tax exemptions will be effective from 1 July 2020 and will be applicable for personal income tax declarations for 2020.
- Personal exemption changed from VND 9mil/month to VND 11mil/month (VND 132 mil/year)
- Dependent exemption changed from VND 3.6mil/dependent/month to VND 4.4mil/dependent/month
Internally Transferred Foreign Workers Do Not Need to Pay Health Insurance
As per Official letter No. 288/BHXH-QLT dated 18 Feb 2020, from 01 Feb 2020, the manager, executive director, expert and technical worker who are temporarily assigned from a foreign enterprise to its commercial presence in Vietnam and having been recruited by foreign enterprise for at least 12 months before, are not subject to health insurance.
Social Protection Program & Cash-Intensive Program
Aimed at creating employment and maintain the people’s purchasing power in rural areas.
Revised National Holiday and Collective Leave 2020
Changes in holidays will be made accordingly:
- Eid holidays are still on 24-25 May 2020.
- Collective leave for the Birthday of Prophet Muhammad 2020 will be replaced on 28 October 2020.
- Collective leave for Eid 2020 that initially on 26-29 May 2020 will be replaced on 28-31 December 2020.
New Tax Regulations
Employees of companies engaging in one of 1,062 certain industry fields, of companies that receive import facilities for export purposes (kemudahan impor tujuan ekspor or KITE), and of companies in bonded zones may obtain income tax article 21 facilities borne by the government for the fiscal periods of April to September 2020 (recently has been extended to December 2020).
Covid-19 Relief Schemes
On 28 April, the Ministry made a more detailed announcement on cash assistance. It stated that for the insured workers registered under Social Security Board (SSB), who are working in those factories, shops and establishments, according to the Social Security Law 2012 Article 13 (b)(2) and 100, the number of days without work will be compensated at 40% of their contribution in (1/2020). The employers of factories, shops, and establishments that fall in with the conditions must inform the respective township SSB departments in order to obtain the SSB benefits for their insured workers. Effective from 28 April 2020.
DOLE-AKAP Cash Assistance for Overseas Filipino Workers
Provision of USD 200 or its equivalent in local currency financial assistance for displaced land-based and sea-based Filipino workers affected by COVID- 19 is expanded to:
- Undocumented workers who were terminated/stranded/displaced as of February 2020;
- Those who have experienced job displacements due to lockdown/community quarantine starting February 2020;
- Those who are still at overseas jobsites or stranded in the Philippines or countries where POLOs are present, or in the Philippines as Balik Manggagawa or repatriated in the Philippines;
- Those whose employers have imposed at least a 25% reduction in their monthly salaries starting in February 2020;
- Holders of expired iqama/visa but with a pending application for renewal as of February 2020
DOLE-DTI Interim Guidelines on Workplace Prevention and Control of COVID-19
Private institutions are mandated to comply with minimum health protocols and safety standards in terms of the following:
- Increase physical & mental resilience;
- Reduce transmission of COVID 19 where Employers are required to provide facemask, require daily checklist on employees; temperature check, sanitize workplace;
- Minimize contact rate by encouraging work from home set up, maintain physical distancing set up & other alternative work arrangements;
- Reducing the risk of infection with isolation and testing protocols to suspected COVID patients & decontamination of the workplace;
- Employers & employees duty in the prevention & control policies;
- COVID Testing guidelines;
- Encouraging work from home for Vulnerable Workers;
- Reporting of Illness Guidelines
Employment Adjustment Subsidy Expanded
Expansion of Employment Adjustment Subsidies with special measures taking effect from April 1 to December 31. The programme assists businesses by paying leave allowance of staff if they maintain the employment of the employee. Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will subsidise up to 100% of leave allowance for SMEs and up to 80% for large enterprises. Subsidy is capped at JPY15,000 a day per employee on leave.
Large Relief Package for Key Industries & Job Retention
A 40 Trillion Won relief package unveiled for key industries disrupted by Covid-19. Key industries include aviation, oil refinery, shipping, shipbuilding and car production.
10.1 Trillion Won will be used for:
- Wage subsidies for small businesses
- Create new jobs for young adults and low-income groups
- Jobseeker benefits and job training programs
Minimum Wage Increases by 1.75%
The Fair Work Commission has ordered a 1.75% or $13 a week national minimum wage increase. The new minimum wage will be $753.80 a week or $19.84 an hour.
Essential service workers will receive the increase from 1 July 2020 while industries most severely affected by Covid-19 will increase on 1 February 2021.
Temporary Cash Flow Boosts for SMEs
Eligible businesses and not-for-profit organisations who employ staff can receive $20,000 to $100,000 in cash boost amounts by lodging their activity statements up to the month or quarter of September 2020.
Increase in Instant Asset Write-Off
From 12 March 2020 till 31 December 2020:
- The threshold amount for each asset is $150,000 (up from $30,000)
- Eligibility has been expanded to cover businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million)
Victoria Passes Covid-19 Omnibus Regulations 2020
Allows modifying certain laws in response to the pandemic.
Require landlords and tenants to renegotiate the rent and other terms of eligible leases in good faith before any enforcement action can be commenced.
Regulations made on 1 May 2020 and will apply for a 6-month period (until September).
End of Financial Year Finalisation
A business that employs 20 or more employees has until 14 July 2020 to make a finalisation declaration for its employees’ end of financial year payroll information through Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled payroll systems. Employers with 19 or fewer employees must finalise by 31 July 2020.
When employee information is reported and finalised through STP, there is no requirement to provide the financial year 2019-2020 payment summaries to employees or to lodge a payment summary annual report with the ATO.
On 21 July, the Government announced it is extending the JobKeeper Payment until 28 March 2021 and is targeting support to those businesses and not-for-profits which continue to be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus. From 28 September 2020, eligibility for the JobKeeper Payment will be based on actual turnover in the relevant periods, the payment will be stepped down and paid at two rates.
Covid-19 Leave Support Scheme
Support for employers who need to pay their employees in situations where employees need to stay away from work and cannot work from home.
Subsidy rate is (that meet eligibility requirement):
- $585.80 per week (gross, before tax) for each full-time worker (where they normally worked 20 or more hours a week before COVID-19), or
- $350.00 per week (gross, before tax) for each part-time worker (where they normally worked fewer than 20 hours a week before COVID-19).
Temporary Changes to Parental Leave
Some workers will temporarily be allowed to go back to work during the Covid-19 outbreak without losing their remaining entitlement to parental leave.
Employees can return to work for up to 12 weeks and then go back on parental leave.
Extending Paid Parental Leave
Employees whose babies were due on 1 July, or are born on or after that date, will get 26 weeks of paid parental leave from the Government.
- Paid parental leave increased on 1 July 2020 from 22 weeks to 26 weeks.
- Employees are now eligible for up to $606.46 per week, an increase from $564.38.
Keeping in Touch Extended
Keeping in Touch hours also increased from 52 hours to 64 hours over the duration of the paid parental leave.
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