Links International’s HR Outsourcing team sends out a quarterly update called ONBOARD, to keep clients aware of significant payroll and visa developments across the Asia-Pacific region. Here are the latest updates for your information:
Stricter visa application standards
Although there has not been a formal announcement, it is our understanding that the Hong Kong Immigration Department has plans to implement stricter adjudication standards when assessing visa applications, particularly local worker recruitment methods, market level remuneration rates, and authenticity verification methods for supporting documents of Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG). This should result in reduced processing times and enhanced technological capabilities.
Please contact us to discuss any visa processing enquiries.
Withdrawal of MPF benefits by instalments
The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) reminds Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme members that starting 1 February 2016, members can enjoy more flexibility when managing their MPF benefits upon retirement or early retirement.
Scheme members who have reached the age of 65, or who have reached the age of 60 and have decided to early retire can choose to either withdraw their MPF benefits by instalments or withdraw all their MPF benefits in a lump sum, or retain all their MPF benefits in their accounts for continuous investment.
If members choose to withdraw their MPF benefits by instalments, they can submit their application any time, according to their personal needs. There is also no limit on the amount of each instalment or the number of withdrawals.
Strong support for eventual abolition of MPF offsetting
The Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM), conducted a report that claims that 65% of members of the institute are in favour of abolishing the MPF offsetting mechanism for making severance and long-service payments to employees. In addition to this, the MPFA has called on the government to rethink the offsetting mechanism.Read more
Human Resources Office merged with Labour Affairs Bureau
The Human Resources Office (GRH) is now officially under the management of the Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) after a merger that took place on 28 May. The merger will allow faster access to company information, thus improving the human resources area and employment opportunities for resident workers.Read more
Government tightens visa renewal process for non-resident casino executives
Macau’s government is tightening the renewal process on working visas (Blue Cards) for non-resident casino executives, in order to increase the number of local workers that are promoted to managerial roles. According to the Human Resources Office, if local workers fulfill the requirements for managerial roles, then working visa renewals for expats working at casinos would be denied.
New regulations regarding social insurance
Starting 1 April 2016, new regulations regarding social insurance were brought in in Shanghai. The minimum social contribution is now RMB3,563, whilst the maximum is now RMB17,817. The government has also decreased the employer’s payment ratio of social insurance as follows:
- Unemployment insurance was reduced from 1.5% to 1%
- Pension insurance was reduced from 21% to 20%
- Medical insurance was reduced from 11% to 10%
- Industrial injury insurance was reduced from 0.5% to 0.32%
Revised MBMF effective 1 June 2016
Monthly contributions by Muslims to the Mosque Building and Mendaki Fund (MBMF) will be raised by between S$1 and S$10, depending on the income of the contributor. This is the first revision to contributions since 2009.Read more
Amendments to the Employment Act
Effective 1 April 2016, The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) requires all employers to issue itemised pay slips and key employment terms (KETs) to all employees covered under the Employment Act. This enables employees to better understand how their salary is calculated and their employment terms and benefits, whilst also helps prevent any misunderstandings and disputes. In addition, the MOM has set up a framework to treat less severe breaches of the EA as “civil breaches” which attract administrative penalties.
SingPass 2FA to be compulsory, effective 5 July
From 5 July, two-factor authentication (2FA) will be compulsory for all sensitive e-transactions with the Central Provident Fund Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Ministry of Manpower, and Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority. The process uses a randomly generated one-time password (OTP) delivered via SMS, or a token that looks like a mini-calculator. The OTP must be entered together with the usual SingPass requirements of a password and NRIC number for accessing e-government services.Read more
S$2 billion loan scheme unveiled for SMEs
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) can now apply for unsecured working capital loans of up to S$300,000 under Spring Singapore’s newly launched S$2 billion SME Working Capital Loan programme. Eligible SMEs must first be registered and operating in Singapore. The company should have a minimum of 30% of local shareholding, as well as a group annual sales turnover of maximum S$100 million, or a group employment size of a maximum of 200 employees.
Pay increase for low-wage workers
The government has announced its support for the National Wages Council’s (NWC) recommendation on the increment of monthly pay for low-wage workers. Workers who earn a basic monthly salary of up to S$1,100 will be granted a built-in wage increase of S$50 to S$65.
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