The Employment Programme for the Elderly and Middle-aged (EPEM) encourages employers to engage unemployed job seekers aged 40 or above and provide them with on-the-job training (OJT). Upon completion of OJT under EPEM by the employees, the employers may apply for training allowance for 3 to 6 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 6 to 12 months for employee aged 60 or above.
Upon completion of OJT by eligible employees under EPEM, the amount of OJT allowance offered to the employer is as follows:
^ Age of employee at the commencement of employment.
* Under EPEM, when computing the salary of the job, any items which does not fall within the definition of "wages" under the Employment Ordinance (e.g. discretionary bonus, end of year payment, etc.), irrespective of how it is designated or calculated, should be excluded.
# Working 18 hours to less than 30 hours per week will be defined as part-time post.
The job vacancy must be filled by a job seeker eligible for EPEM [i.e. (i) aged 40 or above at the time of employment and has an unemployment period of not less than 1 month within 1 year prior to the commencement date of employment, and (ii) has registered with Job Centres of the Labour Department (LD)] who commences employment after the vacancy has been registered at LD.
There is no relative or prior employment relationship between the placed job seeker and the employer.
The employer has to hold a valid Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of Registration of a School or other recognized license (payee of OJT allowance will tally with the name of employer as appeared on such certificate or license and cannot be changed).
If the employer involves performance of outsourced services of government departments/statutory bodies and the concerned tender contracts contain mandatory terms on employment conditions (such as wage rate and working hours) of non-skilled workers, the employer must observe such terms when job seekers are placed into these positions. LD may request the employer to submit relevant documents for verification.
The concerned full-time or part-time long-term job vacancy should be registered with LD ("Vacancy Order Form").
The wage rate offered to the employee should comply with the Minimum Wage Ordinance, at par with the market level and no less favourable than the employment terms stated in the vacancy order displayed by LD.
After job seekers have secured full-time or part-time employment from long-term job vacancies registered at the LD, the employer should submit a completed "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training" together with copies of Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of Registration of a School or other recognized license to the Programme Office within (i) 3 months from the date when the job vacancy is posted at LD and (ii) the first month after the commencement date of employment of the employee. LD may request the employer to submit supporting documents on the salary and hours of work of the job (e.g. the signed employment contract) for examination. If the concerned employee does not hold a valid registration with LD, the employer shall arrange he/she to register at any Job Centre of LD as soon as possible.
In general, OJT lasts for 3 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employee aged 60 or above. Subject to the approval of LD with assessment on the nature of the post and business, experience of the employees and mentors, and mode and content of the training, etc., the OJT period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months and 12 months respectively for deserving cases. To apply for OJT longer than 3 months (for employee aged 40 to 59) and 6 months (for employee aged 60 or above), the employer should obtain a "Training Plan" from the Programme Office for completion and submission together with the "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training".
If the employment of the concerned employee has just been terminated by the previous contractor upon expiry of an outsourced service contract and is now engaged by the employer in the same position, the employer is required to submit a "Training Proforma". LD may also require other employers applying for EPEM to submit "Training Proforma" for examination. Employers who have submitted "Training Plan" will be exempted.
Upon verification of the application, LD will issue a "Letter of Approval-in-Principle" to the employer. The employer should only commence the approved OJT under the EPEM upon receipt of this Letter. The approved name of employer, OJT period, name of mentor, employee's post and other employment terms and conditions shall be based on the information at the time the "Letter of Approval-in-Principle" is issued. If the actual situation is different in future, LD reserves the right to determine whether to grant OJT allowance and its amount.
LD will provide copies of the "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training" and relevant training forms (if applicable) submitted by the employer to the employee concerned.
Upon completion of the whole OJT period, the employer should submit the "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and employee and salary and attendance records no later than 1 month after the end of wage period for the last month of OJT period for claiming OJT allowance.
If the employment ends before completion of the approved OJT period, OJT allowance will not be granted if the OJT period underwent by the employee is less than 1 month. For cases where the OJT period underwent is 1 month or more, LD reserves the right to grant OJT allowance proportionally. Employers who wish to apply for OJT allowance should submit the "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and employee, together with salary cum attendance records, to LD for consideration within 1 month after the employment has been terminated and the wage has been cleared to the employee.
Except for statutory holidays, public holidays and rest days, OJT allowance will not be granted for days of leave or absence of any kind of the employee. If the salary and/or other employment terms and conditions of the job is different from the information at the time the "Letter of Approval-in-Principle" was issued, LD reserves the right to determine whether to grant OJT allowance and its amount. Upon LD's verification of the information submitted, OJT allowance will be granted to the employer in a lump sum by cheque.
Each employer can submit a maximum of 80 "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" for each quota year, i.e. 29 June to 28 June of the next year. Registered quota for submitted "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" shall not be cancelled or re-used, irrespective of whether the submissions are finally approved or not. When the registration quota for 80 submissions is met, LD will refuse further "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training" and "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" already submitted, or submitted thereafter within the relevant year by the same employer, and other OJT cases still underway. Re-submission of refused OJT applications due to quota filled in the following year will be rejected.
An employer is only allowed to submit one application for OJT allowance for each job seeker placed. LD reserves the right to reject the application for training allowance if the employer has applied for other employment programme(s) of LD (except the Work Trial Scheme) for the same employee. Employers are prohibited to receive double subsidy from the Government or other organisations in respect of the OJT allowance claimed under EPEM.
LD reserves the right of final decision on the calculation of OJT allowance. Application for OJT allowance will be rejected if the employer fails to comply with any requirements set out in the Application Guidelines, or fails to provide OJT as approved under EPEM, or fails to discharge legal responsibilities as an employer under the Minimum Wage Ordinance, the Employment Ordinance, the Employee's Compensation Ordinance or other relevant ordinances, or fails to provide information timely as required by LD, or omits any information, or provides false or erroneous information.
There must be direct employment relationship between the employer and employee. The employer must undertake all legal responsibilities as an employer under the Minimum Wage Ordinance, the Employment Ordinance, the Employee's Compensation Ordinance and other relevant ordinances.
The employer has to undertake not to displace existing staff of the same position with the newly placed employee.
During the approved OJT period, the employer has to provide OJT to the employee and assign an experienced staff as mentor of the employee. Each mentor should coach no more than 10 employees at the same time.
During the course of OJT, the salary and/or other employment terms and conditions of the job should be no less favourable than the situation when the 'Letter of Approval-in-Principle' was issued. The employer should be responsible for the costs of all operational and administrative expenses, as well as the depreciation of all assets and equipment. No fee or deposit, under whatever title, should be collected from the employee.
Employees are entitled to all other rights, benefits or protections in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Ordinance, the Minimum Wage Ordinance, the Employee's Compensation Ordinance, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance and other relevant ordinances. When drafting employment contracts, the employers can refer to "Using Written Employment Contract (booklet)" and "Sample Employment Contract", which can be downloaded at LD webpage (www.labour.gov.hk).
LD has the right to conduct on-site inspections to the workplace and require the employer or employee to produce relevant documents, such as Business Registration Certificate, employment contracts, wage and attendance records, MPF records, training records, employer's return of remuneration and pensions and other information for examination.
The employer and the employee shall provide true and accurate information. Provision of false or erroneous information for obtaining or intending to obtain any allowances under this programme will be liable to an offence, and the case may be referred to other divisions of LD, other government departments and/or statutory bodies for follow-up.
For submission by post, please make a copy of the filled application forms for record and ensure sufficient mailing time and postage to make delivery in order. Underpaid mail will be rejected. For submission by fax, please keep the fax-generated logsheet that shows the successful transmission record.
LD reserves the final right to approve preliminary application for OJT, to determine the length of OJT period and to grant OJT allowance and its amount. In case of disputes over the application or interpretation of terms and clauses of the EPEM, the authority of final decision rests with LD. The employer and the employee shall undertake to submit to the decision of LD.
The Application Guidelines will be updated at times and the terms should be subject to the latest version. For enquiries, please contact the EPEM Hotline at 2150 6398 (address: 10/F., Kowloon East Government Offices, 12 Lei Yue Mun Road, Kwun Tong), or visit the EPEM dedicated webpage on the Interactive Employment Service website at www.jobs.gov.hk.