Onboard Q3 2017 – Updates on Asia’s Visa and Payroll

Onboard, Links International’s quarterly update that keeps you aware of significant payroll and visa developments across Asia.



2017-2018 Budget – Tax Measures

In his 2017-2018 Budget, the Financial Secretary proposed a number of tax measures. The relevant legislation for these measures was passed and gazetted on 25 May 2017 and 2 June 2017. The measures include: reducing profits tax, salaries tax and tax under personal assessment; increasing the width of marginal tax bands; increasing disabled dependent allowance and dependent sibling allowance; raising the deduction ceiling for self-education expenses; and extending the entitlement period for home loan interest deduction.
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Proposal on Contractual Working Hours to be Reviewed

According to the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr. Law Chi-Kwong, a review will be conducted on whether to continue with the proposal on contractual working hours, as made by the former administration.
Source: HKEJ/Sing Tao Daily

Statutory Minimum Wage increased

The Statutory Minimum Wage (SMW) has been raised from HK$32.5 per hour to HK$34.5 per hour, with effect from 1 May 2017. The monetary cap on the requirement of employers keeping records of the total number of hours worked by employees has also been revised from HK$13,300 per month to HK$14,100 per month.
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Improvements to Paternity Leave to be Announced 

The government is expected to announce the outcomes of a review of statutory paternity benefits towards the end of the year. It is understood that this review examined the possibility of extending the number of paid paternity leave days from three to five.
Source: Oriental Daily

Lesbian Expat Wins Landmark Appeal Against Immigration to Secure Spousal Visa

A lesbian expatriate has won a landmark appeal against the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s refusal to grant her a spousal visa, potentially opening the gates for others who can’t join their partners in Hong Kong, as the city does not officially recognise same-sex unions. 
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11 Provinces Have Increased Minimum Wage in 2017

As of 15 July 2017, 11 provinces and cities in China, including Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu and Shandong have increased minimum wages by an average of 9%. Shanghai is the highest paying region in China, with a minimum wage of CNY2,300.
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Taiwan May Relax Regulations for Foreign Workers

The Taiwanese parliament has embarked on an analysis of proposed new legislation ‘The Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professional Talent’, to tackle the issue of talent ‘brain drain’ away from the island. The draft bill removes some of the major hurdles to the recruitment of foreign white collar workers.
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MOM Announces Tripartite Standard for Short-Term Contract Employees

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has launched a tripartite employment standard for term contract employees, which account for 10% of Singapore’s resident employees. The standard addresses issues faced by these employees with regard to leave benefits, termination notice periods and training.
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Singapore Revamps EntrePass Work Visa Programme 

Singapore has announced changes to its EntrePass work visa programme, in a move to rejuvenate the country’s appeal to entrepreneurs. One of the main points is that the paid-up capital requirement (SGD50,000) has been removed, and therefore the intention is that the value of start-up talent will not be measured by monetary contribution alone. The evaluation criteria has also been broadened and made less strict. 
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Malaysia Launches Biometric System to Collect Foreign Workers’ Fingerprints 

Malaysia will launch a new immigration system for foreign workers from October 2017, which will mean only those whose fingerprints have been recorded can undergo a mandatory health check to enable them to work in the country.
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Indonesia Removes Pakistan from Restrictive Calling Visa Country List

The Indonesian government has announced the removal of Pakistan from its Calling Visa Country List after 13 years of being on this restrictive list. According to the new regulations, the Indonesian Missions in Pakistan and other countries would be authorised to issue visas to Pakistani nationals, without referring the application to immigration authorities in Jakarta.
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Electronic Tax Payments Re-Regulated by Indonesian Tax Authority

The Director General of Taxes (DG Tax) has issued regulation number PER-05/PJ/2017 concerning electronic tax payments. This new regulation aims to simplify the procedures for electronic payments which pertain to tax payments in US Dollars and administration of land and building taxes. 
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Non-Mandatory Central Provident Fund System Coming into Force 1 Jan 2018

The Law 7/2017, ‘Non-Mandatory Central Provident Fund System’ was approved by the General Assembly of the Legislative Assembly and shall come into force on 1 January 2018. This system aims to strengthen the social protection for the residents of the Macau SAR in their old age and to complement the existing social security system
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South Korea to Increase Minimum Wage by 16% in 2018

The minimum wage in South Korea is set for its biggest increase since 2001, increasing by 16% to KRW7,530 next year. This wage increase comes with a promise from President Moon Jae-in to help increase the minimum wage to at least KRW10,000 by 2020
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Vietnam to Increase Minimum Salary by 6.5% in 2018

Vietnam’s National Salary Council announced in August that it will increase the regional minimum salary by 6.5% in 2018, meaning each employee will receive an additional 180,000 to 230,000 VND per month. From 1 January 2018, the minimum monthly salary will be raised according to the geographic zone in which enterprises are located.
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Vietnam and Laos Extend Labour Pact

The Vietnamese Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and its Laos counterpart, The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, have agreed to expand the 2013 Vietnam-Laos Labour Cooperation Pact until 2019. Under this pact, Vietnam provides short and long-term scholarships for Lao civil servants looking to upskill, as well as to students.
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New Law on Foreign Employees and Migrant Workers

A new Royal Decree on Managing the Work of Aliens B.E. 2560 became effective on 23 June 2017. This new law cancels and replaces the two main pieces of legislation regulating foreigners working in Thailand, due to an ‘urgent need’ to address the current problems of foreigners working in Thailand, as well as to tackle human trafficking issues
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Japanese Unemployment Rate at its Lowest in Two Decades

With the unemployment rate at its lowest point for two decades, the Japanese employment market remains a model for a lot of countries. Whilst a 2.8% unemployment rate is excellent, it creates a challenge for employers, who face tough competition in the employment market to attract and retain talents.
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Single Touch Payroll Will Be Required from April 2018

Single Touch Payroll (STP) is a government initiative to streamline the declaration of wages, tax and superannuation contributions to the taxation office. From 1 April 2018, employers with over 20 employees will be required to report wages, superannuation contributions and taxes by the payment day.
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Parental Leave Payments Have Increased as of 1 July

Parental leave payments have increased as of 1 July 2017 to reflect the 2.1% rise in the average weekly earnings. The maximum weekly rate for eligible employees and self-employed parents has increased from NZD527.72 to NZD538.55 gross per week

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