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.
- Hong Kong
- Government to Grant Additional 5 Statutory Holidays by 2030
- Hong Kong Breastfeeding Discrimination Law
- Minimum Wage Frozen at HK$37.50 an Hour
- BNO No Longer Recognised as Evidence in Support of An Application for Early Withdrawal Of MPF
- Increasing the Levels of Compensation Under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, the Pneumoconiosis and Mesothelioma (Compensation) Ordinance and the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance
- Mainland China
- Visa Facilitation for Applicants Inoculated with Covid-19 Vaccines Produced in China
- Retirement Age to Be Raised in Stages
- 2020 Annual Individual Income Tax Settlement for Comprehensive Income Process Begins on March 2021
- CPF e-Submission Rebranded to CPF EZPay from 28 March 2021
- Increase in SGUnited Traineeships Allowances from 1 April 2021
- Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to be Extended to Food Services and Retail Sectors In 2 To 3 Years
- Dependant’s Pass Holders Need to Apply for Work Pass Instead of Letter of Consent from May 1, 2021
- Extension of Post-Stay-Home Notice for Newly Arrived Workers in CMP Sectors, from 5 February 2021
- Tightening of ‘S Pass’ Hiring Quota for Manufacturing Sector
- Extension of Singapore’s Jobs Support Scheme by Up to 6 Months
- Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) Extended by 7 Months
- JGI March 2021 Payout
- Tightening of Employment Pass Regulations for Overseas Intra-Corporate Transferee
- Expansion of The Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad Act 2001, Broadening Access to Human Resource Development Fund
- RM12.72 Billion Wage Subsidies 1.0 Applications Approved
- Wage Subsidy 3.0
- Launch of New e-Learning Hub e-LATiH
- Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 Comes into Force
- Payment for i-Sinar Applications
- Social Security Assistance for Second Wave
- Increase in Retirement Age
- Deadline for Personal Income Tax Filing
- Regulation to Simplify Hiring of Foreign Workers, Effective from 1 April 2021
- Collective Leave Days Reduced to 2 Days
- Wage Adjustments Allowed in Certain Labour-Intensive Industries
- The Upper Limit of Wages for Pension Security Contribution Has Decreased
- The Government is Extending Tax Incentives Until June 30, 2021
- The Social Security Scheme of Pension
- Law on Preventive Measures Against the Spread of COVID-19 and other Severe and Dangerous Diseases
- Instruction of Implementation of Leave During Khmer New Year
- Government Reduces 3 Holidays for 2021
- Holders of Valid Visas Issued on or Before 20 March 2020 Permitted to Enter
- Higher Pay for Pinoy Workers on February Holidays
- New Guidelines on Ventilation for Workplaces/Public Transport to Prevent & Control the Spread of COVID-19
- Guidelines on the Administration of Covid-19 Vaccines in the Workplace
- South Korea
- Amendments to Korea’s Major Employment and Labour-Relations laws
- Severe Accidents Penalties Act
- SME Recovery Loan Scheme
- JobKeeper Scheme End Date
- COVID-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace
- New Zealand
- Date of The Inaugural Matariki Public Holiday Announced
- Wellbeing Support Package Unveiled for Horticulture Sector
- Apprenticeship Boost Initiative Extended by 4 Months
Government to Grant Additional 5 Statutory Holidays by 2030
HK government publishes a bill to provide an extra 5 days of public holidays by 2030. The number of annual of statutory holidays will gradually increase from the current 12 days to 17 days. The new law will grant one extra statutory holiday every 2 years from 2022 in the following order:
- the Birthday of the Buddha,
- the first weekday after Christmas Day,
- Easter Monday,
- Good Friday, and
- the day following Good Friday.
Hong Kong Breastfeeding Discrimination Law
Amendment to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (“SDO”) prohibiting breastfeeding discrimination (“Amendment”) will come into force on 19 June 2021.
The protection against breastfeeding discrimination applies to a woman
- Who is breastfeeding a child,
- Who is expressing breast milk, or
- Who feeds a child with her breast milk, (collectively, “Breastfeeding”).
Minimum Wage Frozen at HK$37.50 an Hour
Hong Kong’s minimum wage will remain at HK$37.50 an Hour until its next review in October 2022. This is the first time it will remain unchanged since its introduction in 2011.
BNO No Longer Recognised as Evidence in Support of An Application for Early Withdrawal Of MPF
Given the announcement by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on 29 January 2021 that BN(O) passport was no longer recognised as a valid travel document as well as proof of identity, BN(O) passports are no longer recognised as any form of proof of identity in Hong Kong. Thus, scheme members cannot rely on BN(O) passport or its associated visa as evidence in support of an application for early withdrawal of MPF.
Increasing the Levels of Compensation Under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, the Pneumoconiosis and Mesothelioma (Compensation) Ordinance and the Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance
The Employees’ Compensation Ordinance (ECO) provides for the payment of statutory compensation to injured employees and family members of deceased employees for prescribed occupational diseases, injuries or deaths caused by accidents arising out of and in the course of employment.
The Pneumoconiosis and Mesothelioma (Compensation) Ordinance (PMCO) provides for the payment of compensation to persons and their family members in respect of incapacity or deaths resulting from pneumoconiosis and/or mesothelioma.
The Occupational Deafness (Compensation) Ordinance (ODCO) provides for the payment of compensation to persons who suffer from noise-induced deafness by reason of employment in the noisy occupations specified under the Ordinance.
The Legislative Council passed three resolutions on 17 March 2021 to increase the amounts of a total of 18 compensation items under ECO, PMCO and ODCO. The adjusted levels of compensation will come into effect on 15 April 2021.
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Visa Facilitation for Applicants Inoculated with Covid-19 Vaccines Produced in China
From 15 March 2021, visa applications will be made easier for applicants who have been inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines produced in China and obtained the vaccination certificate.
For more information: http://www.fmcoprc.gov.hk/eng/vtc/t1860509.htm or http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/t1861379.htm
Retirement Age to Be Raised in Stages
According to the outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan, China is planning to gradually raise the retirement age. We will likely see a hike in the retirement age by a few months every year. More information to follow.
2020 Annual Individual Income Tax Settlement for Comprehensive Income Process Begins on March 2021
On February 8, 2021, the State Taxation Administration issued the notice of “the State Administration of Taxation on 2020 Individual Income Tax (IIT) settlement for comprehensive income”, which stipulates that the relevant taxpayers need to process the IIT Settlement for the Year 2020 from March 1 to June 30, 2021. Taxpayers without domicile in China who leave the country before March 1 2021, may apply for annual remittance before departure.
Contact our team in China for more details!
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CPF e-Submission Rebranded to CPF EZPay from 28 March 2021
From the 28th March 2021, CPF e-Submission will be renamed to CPF EZPay. The submission process will remain unchanged.
Increase in SGUnited Traineeships Allowances from 1 April 2021
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates starting SGUnited traineeships from 1 April 2021 will have their maximum allowances raised by S$300 while it will go up by S$800 for mid-career professionals aged 40 and older.
Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to be Extended to Food Services and Retail Sectors In 2 To 3 Years
The PWM will be expanded to increase the wages of around 80,000 local workers in the food services and retail sectors.
Dependant’s Pass Holders Need to Apply for Work Pass Instead of Letter of Consent from May 1 2021
Effective from May 1 2021, Dependant’s Pass (DP) holders who wish to continue working in Singapore must apply for a relevant work pass instead of a Letter of Consent (LOC). Existing SP holders with LOC will be allowed to continue working until the LOC expires.
Extension of Post-Stay-Home Notice for Newly Arrived Workers in CMP Sectors, from 5 February 2021
Post-Stay-Home Notice (SHN) 7-day testing regime to all newly arrived Work Permit S Pass workers in Construction, Marine and Process (CMP) sectors from higher-risk countries/regions after completing their 14-Day SHN from 5 February 2021.
Tightening of ‘S Pass’ Hiring Quota for Manufacturing Sector
Singapore announced tighter ‘S Pass’ hiring quotas for the manufacturing sector. The government will reduce the quota from the current 20% to:
- 18% by January 1, 2022, and
- 15% by January 1, 2023.
Extension of Singapore’s Jobs Support Scheme by Up to 6 Months
As part of the 2021 Budget Covid-19 Resilience Package announced on February 16, 2021, the JSS will be extended for a further 6 months for the most severely affected enterprises.
To learn more about the JSS and eligibility read our blog: https://linksinternational.com/blog/singapores-jobs-support-scheme-jss-extended-by-up-to-6-months/
Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) Extended by 7 Months
The JGI was first introduced in September 2020 to support the hiring of local employees and was due to end in February 2021. The JGI will now be extended till the end of September 2021.
To learn more about the JGI read our blog: https://linksinternational.com/en-sg/blog/receive-up-to-30k-sgd-with-singapores-jobs-growth-incentive-jgi/
JGI March 2021 Payout
Businesses that are eligible to receive March 2021 JGI payouts will receive 25% or 50% support for the first $5000 SGD of gross monthly wages paid to all new local hires for the months of September, October, and November 2020.
To learn more about the JGI read our blog: https://linksinternational.com/en-sg/blog/receive-up-to-30k-sgd-with-singapores-jobs-growth-incentive-jgi/
Tightening of Employment Pass Regulations for Overseas Intra-Corporate Transferee
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has included an additional question in the Employment Pass (EP) online application form if employers declare that the candidate is applying to transfer to a branch, affiliate or subsidiary of the EP sponsoring entity in Singapore.
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Expansion of The Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad Act 2001, Broadening Access to Human Resource Development Fund
Access to the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) broadened by expanding of the PSMB Act 2001. The expansion is expected to increase the number of employees that are eligible for training under HRDF from 2.5 million to 6.1 million. Effective 1 March 2021.
RM12.72 Billion Wage Subsidies 1.0 Applications Approved
According to the Finance Minister, a total of 322,177 employers and 2.64 million employees have received wage subsidy benefits. A total of RM12.72 billion were approved.
Wage Subsidy 3.0
The government has continued its wage subsidy programme, now known as PSU 3.0. The PSU 3.0 will be extended to all employers (all sectors) operating within states under the Movement Control Order reimplemented on 13 January 2021. Employers can receive up to RM600 per employee per month for up to a max of 500 employees.
New tourism and retail sector businesses will receive subsidies for 6 months while existing PSU recipients will receive another 3 months. For all other sectors, the PSU will be extended for one month.
Launch of New e-Learning Hub e-LATiH
The government in collaboration with Human Resources Development Fund has launched a new e-learning hub e-LATiH. The new hub provides 2 million users with free access to various educational-based courses and skills development.
Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 Comes into Force
The Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2020 was gazetted on 20th February 2020 and came into partial effect on 1 January 2021. Key amendments include changes to Unfair Dismissal, Power of Trade Unions, Punishment for Illegal Picketing, Strikes and Lock-outs.
Payment for i-Sinar Applications
Applicants for the i-Sinar under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) submitted before Feb 25 will be progressively approved in batches.
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Social Security Assistance for Second Wave
Due to the resurgence of Covid-19, the Ministry of Labor published two regulations under the Social Security Act (SSA):
- The Force Majeure Regulation – The definition of Force Majeure includes under the Social Security Act B.E. 2533 (1990) (the SSA) includes hazards from pandemics of dangerous communicable diseases (including Covid-19)
- The SSF Contribution Regulation – Reduction in the rate of mandatory Social Security Fund contributions from January 1, 2021 to March 31, 2021
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Increase in Retirement Age
From 1 January 2021, employees working in normal conditions, the retirement age is 60 years and 3 months for males and 55 years and 4 months for females. Each subsequent year the retirement age for males will increase by 3 months until 2028 when it reaches 62, while for females the retirement age will increase 4 months up to a retirement age of 60 in 2035.
Deadline for Personal Income Tax Filing
Based on Official Letter 636 / TCT-DNNCN dated 12 Mar 2021 guiding the finalisation of Personal Income Tax (PIT) in 2020:
- For enterprises: The deadline for submitting tax finalisation declaration dossiers is the last day of the 3rd month from the end of the calendar year or fiscal year.
- For individuals directly submitting tax finalisation: The deadline for submission is the last day of the 4th month from the end of the calendar year. In case the deadline for submission of tax finalisation dossiers coincides with the prescribed days-off, the deadline for submission is the following working day. In case the individual has PIT refund but is late in submitting the tax finalisation declaration as prescribed, the penalty for administrative violations of tax finalisation declaration is not imposed.
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Regulation to Simplify Hiring of Foreign Workers, Effective from 1 April 2021
To simplify the hiring of expatriate workers, a new Government regulation comes into force on April 1, 2021. This includes changes in the work permit application process which removes the Notification requirement and speeds up approval.
Collective Leave Days Reduced to 2 Days
The government will reduce the number of collective leave days in 2021 from 7 days to 2 days in an effort to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.
Wage Adjustments Allowed in Certain Labour-Intensive Industries
Companies within certain labour-intesive industries that are affected by the pandemic can agree with workers to adjust the amount of wages paid to workers along with payment procedures.
The key provisions:
- Criteria of Labour-Intensive Industries
Companies within labour-intensive industries fall under the scope of Regulation 2 shall fulfil the following requirements:
- 1. A company has at least 200 (two hundred) workers; and
- 2. The cost of the labour of such company constitutes at least 15% of the total production costs of the company.
In terms of industry coverage, labour-intensive industries encompass the following:
- food, beverage, and tobacco industry;
- textile and garment industry;
- leather and leather goods industry;
- footwear industry;
- children’s toys industry; and
- furniture industry.
- Wage Adjustment Agreement
The Wage Adjustment Agreement must be made through a transparent and good-intentioned deliberation between the company and its workers, and must contain at least the following:
- 1. the amount of adjusted wages;
- 2. the procedures of the wage payment; and
- 3. the term of the agreement (which shall not be beyond December 31, 2021).
The Government is Extending Tax Incentives Until June 30, 2021
The government extends tax incentives for taxpayers affected by Covid-19 until June 30, 2021. This follows the issuance of Minister of Finance Regulation Number 9 / PMK.03 / 2021 concerning Tax Incentives for Taxpayers Affected by the Corona Virus Disease 2019 Pandemic.
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The Social Security Scheme of Pension
Prakas released on Mar 4, 2021, on the “The Social Security Scheme of Pension Money Section for The Persons Who Are Under the Provisions of Labor Law”.
The pension contributions are a joint burden between Employer/Owner and Employee/Worker. For the first 5 years this contribution shall be determined at the rate of 4% of the contributed wages as determined below:
- 2% is the burden of the Employer
- 2% is the burden of the Employee/Worker
However, the effective date of the implementation shall be determined by a Joint-Prakas between the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Law on Preventive Measures Against the Spread of COVID-19 and other Severe and Dangerous Diseases
Cambodia has adopted a tougher law to protect people’s lives, public health and preserve public order, as well as minimising the spread of contagious diseases. This law is applied to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and other severe and dangerous contagious diseases as determined by the Ministry of Health in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Financial penalties and prison sentences for violators, for example, Covid-19 patients fleeing treatment can face up to 5 years in prison and a fine of 5000 USD.
Instruction of Implementation of Leave During Khmer New Year
On Mar 23, 2021 the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has released the instruction of implementation of Leave during Khmer New Year which will be held on Apr 14-16, 2021. With this implementation, Employers/Companies have 2 choices:
- Negotiate with the workers/employees to continue operations and postpone the 3-day holiday with the Pchum Ben Festival or arrange an appropriate period to compensate workers/employees, which does not harmful to the operation.
- Follow the schedule of the holiday
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Government Reduces 3 Holidays for 2021
3 Days were declared as special “working” days in 2021, including:
- All Souls’ Day (2 November 2021);
- Christmas Eve, (24 December 2021) and;
- last day of the year (31 December 2021).
Holders of Valid Visas Issued on or Before 20 March 2020 Permitted to Enter
Holders of valid 9(g) visas, 9(f) visas, Special Visa for Employment Generation (SVEG) and Special Investors Resident Visas (SIRV) issued on or prior to 20 March 2020, are now allowed to enter the Philippines without a travel exemption from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
However, holders of 9(a) visas and Special Resident and Retirees Visas (SRRV) will need to secure a travel ban exemption from the DFA. Non-visa holders will likewise have to secure a travel ban exemption and a 9(a) visa.
Higher Pay for Pinoy Workers on February Holidays
Private sector workers who work on declared holidays in February receive higher pay. Employees who report to work on the 12th Feb (Chinese New Year) and 25th Feb (Commemoration of the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution) shall be paid an additional 30% of their basic wage in the first 8 hours.
New Guidelines on Ventilation for Workplaces/Public Transport to Prevent & Control the Spread of COVID-19
Adequate ventilation should be strictly enforced inside the workplace preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19. The employer shall be responsible for maintaining an acceptable and safe indoor air quality.
Guidelines on the Administration of Covid-19 Vaccines in the Workplace
Employers shall adopt and implement the appropriate vaccination policy in the workplace as part of the OSH program. They may procure COVID-19 vaccines and may seek the support of appropriate government agencies. No cost of vaccination shall be charged against or passed on directly or indirectly to the employees.
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Amendments to Korea’s Major Employment and Labour-Relations Laws
Amendments to several significant Korean employment and labour-relation laws will come into effect in 2021. This includes:
- Trade Union and Labor Relations Adjustment Act
- Ex-employees permitted to remain union members
- Max CBA period extended to 3 years
- Amendments take effect on July 6, 2021
- Labor Standards Act
- Maximum averaging periods for selective-hours and flexible-hours systems increased
- Effective on April 6, 2021 for employers with 50 or more employees, and on July 1, 2021 for employers with five or more employees
- Additional health & safety requirements for MOEL-approved extra overtime
- Effective on April 6, 2021
- Electronic contracts
- Effective on January 5, 2021
- Maximum averaging periods for selective-hours and flexible-hours systems increased
Severe Accidents Penalties Act
The Korean National Assembly passed the Severe Accidents Penalties Act, which imposes severe penalties on businesses and executives that fail to fulfil new health-and-safety obligations which result in death or in serious injuries or illnesses of employees.
The Act will take effect one year after promulgation. However, employers with fewer than 50 employees (or construction businesses involving projects that cost less than KRW5 billion) will enjoy an enforcement grace period until three years after promulgation.
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SME Recovery Loan Scheme
The Government’s SME Recovery Loan Scheme is designed to support the economic recovery, and to provide continued assistance, to firms currently on JobKeeper. The Government will work with lenders to ensure that eligible firms will have access to finance to maintain and grow their businesses when JobKeeper ends.
JobKeeper Scheme End Date
The JobKeeper scheme ends on Sunday, 28 March 2021. From Monday, 29 March 2021:
- There are no more JobKeeper fortnights where businesses can claim JobKeeper payments from the Australian Taxation Office
- Employers (including legacy employers) can no longer use the Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions to issue or make JobKeeper enabling directions or agreements
- An employee’s usual terms and conditions of employment (that applied before the JobKeeper scheme started) apply again.
COVID-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace
There are currently no laws or public health orders in Australia that specifically enable employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against coronavirus. The Australian Government’s policy is that receiving a vaccination is voluntary, although it aims to have as many Australians vaccinated as possible. There are, however, limited circumstances where an employer may require their employees to be vaccinated.
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Date of The Inaugural Matariki Public Holiday Announced
The date for the inaugural Ngā Mata o te Ariki, more commonly known as Matariki public holiday will be on the 24 June 2022.
Wellbeing Support Package Unveiled for Horticulture Sector
A $350,000 NZD support package for the horticulture sector. The package will help address the labour crisis and contribute towards wellbeing training programmes.
Apprenticeship Boost Initiative Extended by 4 Months
The Apprenticeship Boost scheme has been extended by 4 months to run until August 2022. The scheme allows employers to access a subsidy of $1000 NZD per month for first-year apprentices and $500 NZD per month for second-year apprentices.
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.
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Disclaimer: This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only, and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice. This post contains links to other websites owned by third parties. The content of such third-party sites is not within Links International’s control, and we cannot and will not take responsibility for the information, content or personal information collected by third party sites.