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Employers' Frequently Asked Questions

Employment Programme for the Elderly and Middle-aged

Employers' Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the eligibility criteria of employers applying for the on-the-job training (OJT) allowance?

  2. Are there any prescribed industries and occupations under Employment Programme for the Elderly and Middle-aged (EPEM)?

    Employers who engage elderly or middle-aged job seekers aged 40 or above with an unemployment period of not less than 1 month within 1 year prior to the commencement date of employment to fill full-time or part-time (i.e. working 18 hours to less than 30 hours per week) long-term posts after the job vacancy is registered with the Labour Department, irrespective of their industries and occupations, are welcome to join EPEM. Employers are also required to meet certain requirements under EPEM. For details, please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance".

  3. How to set the wage level if employers want to join EPEM?

    The wage rate offered to the employees must 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 Labour Department.

  4. What is the amount of OJT allowance offered to employers?

    Under EPEM, employers engaging elderly job seekers aged 60 or above who are unemployed or have left the workforce may apply for an OJT allowance of up to $5,000 per month per employee; while employers engaging unemployed job seekers aged 40 to 59 may apply for an OJT allowance of up to $4,000 per month per employee. In general, OJT lasts for 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above. Subject to the approval of the Labour Department, the OJT period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employee aged 60 or above for deserving cases in which employers have to provide detailed information for vetting.

    Upon completion of OJT by eligible employees under EPEM, the amount of OJT allowance offered to the employer is as follows:

    Type of post Age of Employee^ Amount of OJT allowance*
    (per month per employee)
    Full-time post Aged 40 to 59 50% of the employee's salary of the month,
    with the maximum amount up to $4,000
    Aged 60 or above 50% of the employee's salary of the month,
    with the maximum amount up to $5,000
    Part-time post# Aged 40 to 59 25% of the employee's salary of the month,
    with the maximum amount up to $4,000
    Aged 60 or above 50% of the employee's salary of the month,
    with the maximum amount up to $5,000

    ^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.

  5. How can employers enroll in EPEM?

    • When employers prepare to employ elderly and middle-aged job seekers, employers should register their full-time or part-time long-term vacancies with the Labour Department through completion of the "Vacancy Order Form" or via the "Interactive Employment Service" website and indicate that they welcome applications from elderly and middle-aged job seekers. After the job vacancies are registered with Labour Department, job seekers obtain vacancies information and proceed to applications through referrals of the Labour Department or directly to the employers, depending on the job application method selected by the employers.
    • When employers employ job seekers who are eligible for EPEM, they have to 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 Labour Department, and (ii) the first month after the commencement of employment of the job seekers. Labour Department 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 job seekers concerned have not yet registered at the Labour Department, employers should arrange them to register at any Job Centre as soon as possible.
    • After verification, Labour Department will notify successful employers and employees by issuing a "Letter of Approval-in-Principle". Upon the receipt of the letter, employers shall commence the OJT according to the date specified.
  6. How many applications can each employer submit?

    Each company/organization can submit a maximum of 80 "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" under EPEM for each quota year, i.e. 29 June to 28 June of next year.

  7. Why the registration quota being set as 80 submissions?

    This aims for maintaining the quality of EPEM and better use of resources.

  8. Why each mentor cannot coach more than 10 employees at the same time?

    This aims for maintaining the quality of EPEM and providing an effective OJT for the employees.

  9. How to identify eligible job seekers under EPEM?

    All elderly or middle-aged job seekers aged 40 or above and have an unemployment period of not less than 1 month within 1 year prior to the commencement date of employment are eligible for EPEM. When employers employ job seekers who are eligible for EPEM but the job seekers have not yet registered with the Labour Department, employers should arrange the job seekers to register at any Job Centre as soon as possible.

  10. Can employers employ eligible job seekers by other means of recruitment?

    Yes. However, to be qualified for OJT allowance under EPEM, employers have to register the job vacancies with the Labour Department first. After the job vacancies are registered with Labour Department, job seekers obtain relevant job vacancy information through the Labour Department or other recruitment channels and proceed to applications through referrals of the Labour Department or directly to the employers, depending on the job application method selected by the employers. Employers then select and employ eligible job seekers. For application procedures, please refer to the section of "Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance".

  11. What will employers benefit from EPEM?

    The OJT allowance provided by EPEM can enrich the training resources of employers. Employers can also take the opportunity to formulate systematic and tailor-made training plans for the new recruits.

  12. If employers intend to apply for longer OJT period for the eligible job seekers under EPEM, what are the relevant procedures?

    • In general, OJT lasts for 3 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employees aged 60 or above. Subject to the approval of the Labour Department with assessment on the nature of the post and business, experience of the employees and mentors, mode and content of the training, etc., the OJT period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employee aged 60 or above for deserving cases.
    • Please note that according to our vetting criteria, the duration of OJT for certain posts, e.g. security guard, cleaning worker and general clerk, etc., is 3 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employee aged 60 or above.
  13. How to formulate an OJT plan for the new recruits?

    • The main objective of OJT is to help the newly recruited elderly and middle-aged employees to adapt to the new working environment and acquire the essential job-specific skills through training. Employers have to provide OJT within the specified period to the placed job seekers and assign experienced staff as the mentors to assist the job seekers.
    • Training plan can be formulated by employers based on the company business nature, job seekers' qualifications and job requirements. The content of the training must at least include the following items: assignment of mentor, nature of business and company structure, human resources policy, product and service knowledge, roles and duties of the staff, workflow, job related knowledge and skills.
  14. How do employers apply for payment of OJT allowance?

    Upon completion of the approved OJT by employees, employers shall submit a duly completed "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and the employee, together with salary and attendance records of the concerned employees, no later than 1 month after the end of wage period for the last month of the OJT period or within 1 month after the employment has been terminated and where all relevant wages has been cleared. Upon verifying the information submitted, OJT allowance will be granted by Labour Department to eligible employers in a lump sum by cheque.

  15. Do the newly recruited employees have to sign any documents under EPEM after they are employed?

    Participating employers have to submit a "Preliminary Application Form for On-the-Job Training" under EPEM. To apply for longer OJT period for a maximum of 6 months for employees aged 40 to 59 and 12 months for employees aged 60 or above, employers have to submit a "Training Plan" as well. Upon completion of the OJT, employers have to submit an "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form". The employees concerned have to sign on these documents as confirmation, and copies of the signed documents will be provided to them for reference.

  16. If employers intend to provide OJT to employees for 1 month, can application for one-month training allowance be made?

    No. For the purpose of applying for training allowance under EPEM, employers have to provide OJT according to the specified period as approved by Labour Department to the placed job seekers, which lasts for 3 months for employee aged 40 to 59 and 6 months for employee aged 60 or above in general.

  17. How does the Labour Department examine applications submitted under EPEM?

    In addition to the examination of application forms and supporting documents, the Labour Department may conduct on-site inspections to the workplaces and require employers or employees 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.

  18. If the employment ends before completion of the approved OJT period, can employers apply for training allowance and what are the relevant procedures?

    No training allowance will be granted if the OJT period underwent by the employees is less than 1 month. For cases where the OJT period underwent is 1 month or above, the Labour Department reserves the right to grant OJT allowance proportionally. Employers who wish to apply for the training allowance should submit an "On-the-job Training Allowance Claim Form" signed by both the employer and employee, together with salary and attendance records of the concerned employees, to the Labour Department for consideration within 1 month after the employment has been terminated and the wage has been cleared to the employee.

  19. Are there any additional rules to be followed under EPEM if employers are contractors of government departments/statutory bodies?

    If the employers are contractors 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 employers must observe such terms when job seekers are placed into these positions. The Labour Department may request employers to submit relevant documents for verification.

    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".

  20. Under what circumstances will an application for OJT allowance be rejected?

    The application for OJT allowance will be rejected if an employer:

    • fails to comply with the guidelines and requirements stipulated under EPEM; 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 Employees' Compensation Ordinance or other relevant ordinances; or
    • during the course of OJT, offers the employee wages and/or other employment terms and conditions worse off than those being offered when the 'Letter of 'Approval-in-Principle' was issued under EPEM;
    • fails to provide information timely as required by the Labour Department; or
    • provides false or erroneous information.

    Please refer to the section of 'Employers: Application Guides for On-the-job Training Allowance' for relevant information.

  21. What else should employers be aware of?

    The employer and the employee shall provide true and accurate information. Provision of false or erroneous information for obtaining or intending to obtain any allowance under EPEM, they will be liable to an offence. The Labour Department may refer the cases to other divisions of this department and/or other government departments/statutory bodies for follow-up.

For enquiries, please contact EPEM Hotline: 2150 6398 or e-mail at epem_enq@labour.gov.hk.

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