The government says it is planning to provide a cash subsidy to people who have lost their jobs in light of the latest Covid-19 outbreaks, adding it will change laws to tackle labour issues arising amid the pandemic.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that HK$10,000 will be handed out to each affected individual as part of the sixth round of anti-epidemic relief fund involving a total of HK$26 billion.
She called the allowance a "groundbreaking" policy, saying union leaders and lawmakers had told the government that the local job market had rapidly worsened after Omicron hit Hong Kong.
Those who lost their jobs before the current wave of outbreaks began last December, however, will not be eligible for the subsidy.
Lam said officials are also preparing legal changes such that it will amount to "unreasonable dismissal" for employers to sack staff who are subject to quarantine or mandatory testing orders.
At the same time, she said those who are laid off for refusing to get vaccinated will not be protected under the Employment Ordinance.
At a press conference, Lam was asked whether those who are sacked for not getting jabs will be eligible for the cash subsidy, and she said officials would not vet the reasons why people lost their jobs.
Meanwhile, the CE said there will be more help for specific groups of workers in the next round of anti-epidemic fund.
Cleaners, security guards and those working other high-risk jobs, such as airport freight workers, will also be getting HK$10,000 in subsidy, to be paid across five months.
Sectors which were already eligible for previous rounds of subsidies, such as operators of restaurants, gyms and beauty parlours, as well as affected individuals, will also get money from the new round of relief fund.
The CE added that sectors “indirectly affected”, such as farmers and recruitment firms, will also get financial help.
Govt plans HK$10,000 subsidy for the unemployed
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