Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced on Friday that the government will launch a new round of the employment support scheme, providing three months of subsidy to up to 1.3 million workers affected by the fifth wave of the pandemic.
Under the scheme, each eligible worker will receive HK$24,000 from May to July, or HK$8,000 each month.
Workers earning a monthly salary of under HK$30,000 are set to benefit. Those aged 65 or above and do not have an MPF account will also be eligible.
Lam said around 75 percent of workers in the city earn less than HK$30,000 a month.
She said applications will have to be made by business owners, who must use the subsidies to pay their staff and not for any other purposes.
The chief executive said the scheme aims to help businesses hit by the Omicron outbreak, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, so companies that have remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic will not benefit.
She said government bodies, public institutions, supermarket chains, pharmaceutical chains, banks, financial institutions, property management companies and delivery firms will not be eligible.
"The scheme is intended to support employees through providing wage subsidies to their employers, so we will not draw a distinction between the resident status, ethnicity or background of the individuals," Lam said.
"Distinctions will be drawn on the basis of the industry. So for certain business sectors which are not adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, they will not be eligible. In fact, this is a very strong message given to us when we conducted the 2020 support scheme."
Applications will begin in April for the scheme which is expected to benefit 1.1 million to 1.3 million workers. It will cost the government HK$26 billion to HK$31 billion.
With the city's jobless rate rising to 4.5 percent, Lam said the situation is worrying.
She said the new support scheme is aimed at curbing the unemployment situation and to boost business confidence.
The chief executive also said a HK$3 billion unemployment fund will accept applications from next Wednesday.
To be eligible for the one-off HK$10,000 subsidy, applicants must have worked for at least one month in the fourth quarter of last year, and earned between HK$2,700 and HK$30,000 in monthly pay before they lost their jobs.
Workers in the beauty, fitness and catering industries who were on unpaid leave are also eligible.
Around 300,000 workers are expected to benefit from the scheme.
Last updated: 2022-03-18 HKT 15:55