Onboard- APAC 2021 Q1 Legislation Update

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.

For more news and insights into the market, make sure to subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out on the latest HR news, or contact our team to learn more about the latest changes!

Want a more in-depth look at the legislation by each location? Check out our location legislation summary page now!

  • Hong Kong
    • Visa Applications for Return to Hong Kong from Non-Permanent Residents Outside Hong Kong Are Now Accepted
    • New Maternity Leave Entitlement Comes Into Effect
    • Protection Under Employees’ Compensation Ordinance for Employees Who Contract COVID-19
    • Labour Department Launches the Racial Diversity Employment Programme
    • One-Off Grant of $5,000 for COVID-19 Patients
    • Increase in Annual Quota for Talent Migrant Scheme
    • Measures to Relax CSSA Assets Limits Extends Until 31 May 2021
    • Amendment to Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) Prohibiting Breastfeeding Discrimination
    • Greater Bay Areas Youth Employment Scheme Launched

  • Macau
    • 2021 Salaries Tax Updated
    • 2019 Salaries Tax Refund

  • Taiwan
    • Stimulus Vouchers Available to Foreigners with Permanent Residency
    • Middle-Aged and Senior-Aged Employment Promotion Act Came into Force to Facilitate Employment of Senior Workforce
    • Taiwan’s Minimum Monthly Wage Increases to NT$24,000
    • The Ordinary Insurance Premium Rate for Labour Insurance Raised by 0.5% to 10.5%
    • Health National Insurance Rate Adjustment from 4.69% to 5.17%. Supplementary Premium Rate Changed from 1.91% to 2.11%

  • Singapore
    • Civil Servants and Public Healthcare Workers Given Greater Flexibility to Clear Leave
    • New Employment Pass for Foreign Technical Talents to Be Launched in January 2021
    • Newly Arrived Foreign Workers to Serve Extra Seven Days at Designated Facility After 14-Day Stay-Home Notice
    • Tightening of Employment Pass Regulations for Overseas Intra-Corporate Transferee
    • New Scheme Kicks Off In 2021 To Help More Older CPF Members Attain Basic Retirement Sum
    • Updates on Work Pass Salary Criteria and Job Advertising Requirement Under the Fair Consideration Framework
    • Reduction in S Pass Quota

  • Mainland China
    • State Taxation Administration Adjusts Methods of Withholding and Prepayment of Personal Income Tax
    • The Policy of Reduction and Exemption of Employer’s Social Insurance Has Expired. All Submissions Will Follow Regular Standards from January 2021

  • Malaysia
    • New Requirement for Hiring Foreign Talent
    • Extension HRD Levy Exemption Period
    • EPF Now Allows Withdrawal Up to RM10,000
    • Mandatory COVID-19 Tests for SOCSO Foreign Workers
    • Key Amendments to the Industrial Relations Act Now in Force
    • Government Unveils PERMAI, Fifth Economic Stimulus Package

  • Thailand
    • New Monthly Social Security Contribution Rate at 3% for Employer and Employee Portion Effective from Jan 2021-March 2021

  • Vietnam
    • Vietnam’s New Labour Code Comes into Effect

  • Indonesia
    • Manpower Law Amended
    • Reduced Year-End Holiday Due to Covid-19

  • Cambodia
    • Minimum Wage for Garment and Footwear Industry Workers Set at $192 Per Month for 2021
    • Businesses Can Request for Use of More Foreign Workers in Special Conditions (Prakas No.277/20)
    • Implementation of Public Service Related to Labour and Vocational Training Sector by Registration Automation System (Prakas No.430)

  • Philippines
    • Foreign Nationals with Investment Visas, 47A2 Visas, And Freeport Visas Now Allowed Entry
    • New Schedule of Social Security System (SSS) Contributions Effective January 2021
    • Revised Rules & Regulations for the Issuance of Employment Permits to Foreign Nationals
    • Implementing Guidelines in Providing Financial Assistance and Cash for Work Program for Displaced Workers in Tourism Sector

  • Japan
    • Amendments to Child Care and Family Care Leave Act Comes into Effect

  • South Korea
    • National Assembly Passes 10 Labour-Related Amendment Bills
    • Minimum Wage Set at 8720 KRW

  • Australia
    • The National Employment Standards (NES) Updated to Improve Unpaid Parental Leave
    • JobKeeper Extension 2
    • Single Touch Payroll Phase 2
    • New Industrial Relations Reform Bill Introduced in Federal Parliament

  • New Zealand
    • Bill Introduced to Parliament to Expand Sick Leave Entitlement
    • Proposed Business Support Package Announced
    • Minimum Wage Increase on 1 April 2021

If you have any questions regarding the content please contact Bella Khan at bella.khan@linksinternational.com or Lynette Liew at lynette.liew@linksinternational.com.

Links One


HONG KONG

Visa Applications for Return to Hong Kong from Non-Permanent Residents Outside Hong Kong Are Now Accepted

HK Employment/Dependent visa holders who are outside of Hong Kong:

  • Whose stay about to expire or expired or has been expired in recent 12 months and;
  • Cannot return to HK in a timely manner to renew their visa due to COVID-19

Are now permitted to submit a duly completed application form with required supporting documents for extension of stay.

Reference Link

New Maternity Leave Entitlement Comes into Effect

The extension of statutory maternity leave by 4 weeks takes effect on 11 December 2020. The length of leave will now be 14 weeks.

To learn more: How Has Hong Kong & Macau Updated its Maternity Leave?

Reference Link

Protection Under Employees’ Compensation Ordinance for Employees Who Contract COVID-19

COVID-19 is not currently an occupational disease specified in the Second Schedule. However, Section 36 of the Employee’s Compensation Ordinance (ECO) stipulates that an employee contracting a disease not prescribed as an occupational disease may still claim compensation from their employer under the ECO if it is an injury or death by accident arising out of and in the course of their employment. Employers should check whether their employee compensation insurance adequately covers claims associated with COVID-19 or whether any updates to their policies are required.

Reference Link

Labour Department Launches the Racial Diversity Employment Programme

The Labour Department launched the Racial Diversity Employment Programme which provides, on a pilot basis, a one-stop employment support services for ethnic minority (EM) job seekers in a case management approach through non-governmental organisations.

Registered social workers will be assigned to act as EM participants’ case managers and provide them with customised employment services comprising employment needs assessment, career guidance, pre-employment counselling, employment assistance, job matching, interview preparation, case review, and other related support services.

Reference Link

Increase in Annual Quota for Talent Migrant Scheme

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region announced that it would increase the annual quota of the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) from 1,000 to 2,000.

A government spokesperson hopes that the increase in the annual quota would enlarge Hong Kong’s talent pool and strengthen the city’s role as “Asia’s world city”. The quota allotted under the QMAS was raised from 411 in 2017 to 874 in 2019.

Reference Link

Measures to Relax CSSA Assets Limits Extends Until 31 May 2021

The government will extend measures to relax Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) asset limits by 100% for able-bodied people to maintain the support for unemployed people with immediate financial difficulties for 6 months ending 31 May 2021. The arrangement was extended as part of the third round of anti-epidemic measures.

The Social Welfare Department has temporarily relaxed the CSSA asset limits for able-bodied adult singletons, and able-bodied adults and children under family cases by 100% from 1 June 2020 for 6 months till 30 November 2020.

Reference Link

Amendment to Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) Prohibiting Breastfeeding Discrimination

The amendment to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (“SDO”) prohibiting breastfeeding discrimination (“Amendment”) will come into force on 19 June 2021

Greater Bay Areas Youth Employment Scheme Launched

The government launches to give companies up to HK$18,000 per month for every fresh local graduate they recruit to work in the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

Reference Link

Macau onboard

MACAU

2021 Salaries Tax Updated

30% exemption on salaries tax and the exemption allowance for its assessment in 2021 is at MOP$144,000.00. In case of the following situation: the employer should withhold tax from causal workers whose daily salary is over MOP$640.00 or employees whose monthly salary is over MOP$16,000.00. Please refer to the Simulation Calculation. In addition, exemption allowance for part-time and employees who are aged 65 or above or with a permanent disability level of or above 60%, is adjusted to MOP$198,000.00.

Reference Link

2019 Salaries Tax Refund

60% of the Salaries Tax paid for the assessment year 2019 will be refunded to Salaries Taxpayers who hold a Macao Resident Identity Card on 31 December 2019, up to a ceiling of MOP$14,000.00.

Reference Link

TAIWAN

Stimulus Vouchers Available to Foreigners with Permanent Residency

Effective from 16 November 2020, a total of around 13,000 Alien Permanent Resident Certificate (APRC) holders and foreign diplomats in Taiwan are expected to benefit from an expansion of the number of residents eligible for the stimulus vouchers.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), a total of 11,621 APRC holders will be able to buy the vouchers, worth NT$3,000 for NT$1,000 at post offices nationwide upon presenting their APRC or National Health Insurance cards.

Reference Link

Middle-Aged and Senior-Aged Employment Promotion Act Came into Force to Facilitate Employment of Senior Workforce

To address the challenges arising from an aging population, the Middle-aged and Senior-aged Employment Promotion Act has come into force on 04 December 2020. The purpose of the Act is to increase the employment rate for middle-aged (45 to 65 years old) and senior-aged (over 65 years old) people, including citizens and qualified foreigners.

Reference Link

Taiwan’s Minimum Monthly Wage Increases to NT$24,000

Taiwan’s minimum monthly wage increase 0.84% to NT$24,000 in January 2021, according to the Ministry of Labor. Under the MOL proposal which is approved by the Cabinet, the hourly rate will also rise to NT$160.

Reference Link

The Ordinary Insurance Premium Rate for Labour Insurance Raised by 0.5% to 10.5%

Change of ordinary insurance premium rate for labour insurance with effect from 01 Jan 2021, the ordinary insurance premium rate for labour insurance shall be raised by 0.5% to 10.5%. The premium shall be calculated based on the monthly insurance salary of the insured persons. The total premium charged shall be 11.5%, including 1% employment insurance premium.

Reference Link

Health National Insurance Rate Adjustment from 4.69% to 5.17%. Supplementary Premium Rate Changed from 1.91% to 2.11%

The national health insurance premium rate went up from the previous 4.69% to the current 5.17%. The supplementary premium rate is also higher now, at 2.11%.

Reference Link

SINGAPORE

Civil Servants and Public Healthcare Workers Given Greater Flexibility to Clear Leave

Civil servants and public healthcare workers have been given greater flexibility and more time to allow them to clear their unused annual leave. The new measure is to recognise the hard work they have put in to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

If they are still unable to clear their leave, they will be able to encash up to nine days of leave.

Reference Link

New Employment Pass for Foreign Technical Talents to Be Launched in January 2021

Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced the Tech. Pass which is aimed at attracting the very best of international tech talent to work across different companies or to start companies on their own in Singapore. Applications for the pass will open in January 2021, with 500 places available.

This new kind of employment pass is different from existing employment passes as it does not require the person to be employed by or tied to a particular company to qualify.

Reference Link

Newly Arrived Foreign Workers to Serve Extra Seven Days at Designated Facility After 14-Day Stay-Home Notice

Beginning on January 6 2021, foreign workers entering Singapore must from 6 January 2021, foreign workers who have been approved to enter into Singapore stay at a designated facility for an extra seven days and go through an extra seven-day testing regime, after completing their 14-Day Stay-Home Notice.

Reference Link

Tightening of Employment Pass Regulations for Overseas Intra-Corporate Transferee

If employers declare that a candidate is applying to transfer to a branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the Employment Pass sponsoring entity in Singapore, employers must complete an additional question in the EP online application form. The response will determine if the family members of an intra-corporate transferee are eligible for Dependant’s Passes or Long-Term Visit Passes and if the ICT can pursue further employment in Singapore.

Reference Link

New Scheme Kicks Off In 2021 To Help More Older CPF Members Attain Basic Retirement Sum

From 2021 to 2025 the Singapore Government will match the cash top-ups made to CPF members’ Retirement Accounts capped at $600 per year under the new Matched Retirement Savings Scheme to help more older CPF members attain the Basic Retirement Sum ($93,00 for 2021).

Reference Link

Updates on Work Pass Salary Criteria and Job Advertising Requirement Under the Fair Consideration Framework

Employment Pass

From 1 September 2020, the minimum qualifying salary will be raised to $4,500 for new applications.

From 1 December 2020, the minimum qualifying salary for EP candidates in the financial services sector will be raised to $5,000 for new applications. The qualifying salaries for older and more experienced candidates in their 40s will be raised correspondingly and will remain around double the minimum qualifying salary for the youngest applicants.

The new salary criteria will apply to renewal applications from 1 May 2021.

Reference Link

S Pass

From 1 October 2020, the minimum qualifying salary has been raised to $2,500 for new applications.

The qualifying salaries for older and more experienced S Pass candidates have been revised accordingly.

The new salary criteria will apply to renewal applications from 1 May 2021.

Reference Link

Job Advertising Requirement

All employers are expected to consider Singaporeans fairly for jobs.

From 1 May 2020, we expanded the job advertising requirement to cover job positions paying a fixed monthly salary of less than $20,000.

From 1 October 2020, we further extended the job advertising requirement to S Pass applications. The minimum job advertising duration was also increased from 14 days to 28 days.

These updates ensure that more jobs are advertised to locals as part of a fair hiring process, and there is no pre-selection of a foreign candidate.

We encourage all employers to advertise on MyCareersFuture when they have vacancies and consider all applicants fairly.

Reduction in S Pass Quota

The number of S Pass holders you can hire is limited by a quota.

Under the quota, the number of S Pass holders your company can hire is capped at:

  • 10% of the company’s total workforce in the services sector.
  • 20% in the manufacturing sector.
  • 18% in all other sectors.

Employers who exceed the quota will need to increase their local workforce or reduce the number of foreign workers.

With effect from January 1st 2023, the S Pass quota will be changed as follow:

  • Manufacturing services no change;
  • Construction, Marine Shipyard and Process sectors: reduced from 18% to 15% of the total workforce

Reference Link

MAINLAND CHINA

State Taxation Administration Adjusts Methods of Withholding and Prepayment of Personal Income Tax

For individual residents, withholding and prepayment of individual income tax will be suspended for those months when taxpayers’ cumulative income falls below RMB60,000.

Reference Link

The Policy of Reduction and Exemption of Employer’s Social Insurance Has Expired. All Submissions Will Follow Regular Standards from January 2021

Given COVID 19, authorities reduced or exempted Pension Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, Work-related Injuries Insurance in 2020. Since Jan 2021, these benefits have expired, following previous regular standards.

Reference Link

MALAYSIA

New Requirement for Hiring Foreign Talent

On 2 October 2020 Employers intending to apply for an Employment Pass (“EP”) for a non-Malaysian must now participate in the job placement program organised by JobsMalaysia and advertise the vacancy on the JobsMalaysia portal.

Reference Link

Extension HRD Levy Exemption Period

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has called on the government to extend the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package that exempted Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) registered employers from paying the mandatory Human Resources Development (HRD) levy under the Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad Act 2001 (Act 612) for six months after it ended on the 15 September 2020.

Reference Link

EPF Now Allows Withdrawal Up to RM10,000

The government has expanded the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) i-Sinar Programme to cover savings’ withdrawal from EPF Account 1 for all contributors whose incomes were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz stated that the withdrawal applied to contributors who had either lost their jobs or had suffered a loss of income. EPF members can now withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Account 1.

Reference Link

Mandatory COVID-19 Tests for SOCSO Foreign Workers

The government has decided to conduct mandatory COVID-19 screening tests at subsidised rates for all foreign workers of the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO).

Reference Link

Key Amendments to the Industrial Relations Act Now in Force

The Industrial Relations Act 2020 was published on 20th February 2020 and came into partial effect on 1 January 2021 with some provisions relating to essential services and sole bargaining rights of trade unions.

Reference Link

Government Unveils PERMAI, Fifth Economic Stimulus Package

The Malaysian Government unveiled its PERMAI aid programme, its 5th economic stimulus package worth RM15 billion spread over 22 initiatives. This includes the hiring of healthcare workers, discounts on bills, tax deductions and subsidies.

Reference Link

THAILAND

New Monthly Social Security Contribution Rate at 3% for Employer and Employee Portion Effective from Jan 2021-March 2021

After cabinet approval, the social security contributions for both employers and employees are reduced from 5% to 3% for 3 months.

The new temporary rate of the monthly social security contribution rate, effective from January 2021- March 2021.

Reference Link

VIETNAM

Vietnam’s New Labour Code Comes into Effect

Vietnam Labour Code 2019 will officially replace the Vietnam Labour Code 2012 and come into effect on the 1st January 2021. These new changes will have a direct impact on the obligations and rights of both employers and employees.

Learn More: https://linksinternational.com/blog/new-vietnam-labour-code-2019-comes-into-effect-on-1-january-2021/

INDONESIA

Manpower Law Amended

The passing of the Job Creation Law (Omnibus Law) contains amendments to the Manpower Law (the “Amended Manpower Law”) along with amendments to other 80 existing laws.

Reference Link

Reduced Year-End Holiday Due to Covid-19

Reduced number of collective leave days for Christmas, New Year celebrations and substitute for Idul Fitri leave to curb the transmission of COVID-19 cases.

Indonesia will enjoy a total of 8 days off, namely from 24 December until 27 December 2020 for the Christmas holiday, 31 December 2020 for the Idul Fitri substitute leave, as well as from 1 January to 3 January 2021 for the New Year celebration.

The 3 days that are no longer part of the national holiday under the original plan were from 28 December to 30 December 2020.

Reference Link

Cambodia

CAMBODIA

Minimum Wage for Garment and Footwear Industry Workers Set at $192 Per Month for 2021

The minimum wage in the garment industry increased by $2 to $192 per month for 2021.

Reference Link

Businesses Can Request for Use of More Foreign Workers in Special Conditions (Prakas No.277/20)

Under the foreign employee quota, a maximum of 10% of an employer’s total workforce can be foreign nationals.

However, under this Prakas, business owners that require additional use of Labour force but are unable to find a Cambodian employee to fulfil any workplace or any type of work or any shift will be able to request for additional foreign workers in this special condition, providing legal requirements are met.

Reference Link

Implementation of Public Service Related to Labour and Vocational Training Sector by Registration Automation System (Prakas No.430)

This Prakas aims to launch the public services related to labour and vocational training through an automation system to promote the quality, effectiveness, transparency, accountability in accordance with the request of private sectors in the Industrial Relations Working Group of the Government-Private Sectors Forum.

The implementation of public services related to labour and vocational training shall be implemented via automation system starting from January 11 2021 for public services which are under the central authority of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training for the following public services:

PHILIPPINES

Foreign Nationals with Investment Visas, 47A2 Visas, And Freeport Visas Now Allowed Entry

Foreign nationals with investment visas 47A2 Visas, And Freeport Visas will be allowed entry from Nov. 1 2020.

Reference Link

New Schedule of Social Security System (SSS) Contributions Effective January 2021

This provision increases the SSS contribution rate to 13%, the minimum MSC to P 3,000, and Maximum MSC to P 25,000 effective January 2021 including the new Mandatory Provident Fund program administered by SSS.

Reference Link

Revised Rules & Regulations for the Issuance of Employment Permits to Foreign Nationals 

Revised rules and regulations for the employment of foreign nationals to safeguard the Filipino worker. That the employment of foreign nationals in the Philippines shall be subject to determination of the non-availability of a Filipino citizen who is competent, able, and willing to perform the services for which the foreign national is desired.

Reference Link

Implementing Guidelines in Providing Financial Assistance and Cash for Work Program for Displaced Workers in Tourism Sector 

Financial assistance shall be extended to displaced employees or workers in DOT- accredited primary and secondary tourism enterprises, LGU- licensed primary tourism enterprises and registered CBTO’s as well as to DOT- accredited and LGU-licensed Tour Guides to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 on the workers in the tourism sector.        

Reference Link

Japan Labour Law

JAPAN

Amendments to Child Care and Family Care Leave Act Comes into Effect

Effective from 1 January 2021, amendments to the Child Care and Family Care Leave Act comes into effect. Changes include employees being allowed to take leave to take care of sick or injured child/family by the hour.

Reference Link

Korea Onboard

SOUTH KOREA

National Assembly Passes 10 Labour-Related Amendment Bills

The bills passed by the National Assembly include amendments to flexible work hours system, Trade Union and Labour Relation Adjustment Act (TULRAA).

Reference Link

Minimum Wage Set at 8720 KRW

The 2021 minimum wage has been set at 8720 won per hour, increasing by 130 won from 2020. Comes into effect 1 January 2021.

Reference Link

AUSTRALIA

The National Employment Standards (NES) Updated to Improve Unpaid Parental Leave

The National Employment Standards (NES) has been updated:

  • Eligible employees can take up to 30 days of flexible unpaid leave in the two years after birth or adoption. This can be taken as a continuous period or separately
  • Employees who have experienced the trauma of stillbirths, infant deaths, and premature births will also have access to unpaid parental leave entitlements

Reference Link

JobKeeper Extension 2

This JobKeeper extension period will run from 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021.

Reference Link

Single Touch Payroll Phase 2      

The government announced in the 2019-20 Federal Budget that it would expand the data collected through Single Touch Payroll (STP) by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

STP phase 2 reporting requirements will become mandatory when it commences in July 2021.

Reference Link

New Industrial Relations Reform Bill Introduced in Federal Parliament

A new Industrial Relations Omnibus Bill has been introduced into federal parliament that makes changes to key areas, including the definition of casual employment and compliance.

Reference Link

NEW ZEALAND

Bill Introduced to Parliament to Expand Sick Leave Entitlement

The Holidays Amendment Bill aims to expand sick leave entitlements from 5 days to 10 days a year. The Bill will keep the maximum entitlement of unused sick leave to 20 days annually.

Reference Link

Proposed Business Support Package Announced

The Government has proposed a package to support businesses and individuals in the event of Alert Level escalations due to resurgences of COVID-19 in the community. The package retains key existing financial support and adds new elements. Support is expected to be available late February or early March 2021.    

Reference Link

Minimum Wage Increase on 1 April 2021

The Government confirmed that the adult minimum wage will increase, from $18.90 to $20.00 per hour on 1 April 2021.     

Reference Link


If you have any questions with regards to the content in our Onboard or Links International’s HR Outsourcing services, please contact Bella Khan at bella.khan@linksinternational.com or Lynette Liew at lynette.liew@linksinternational.com.

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