Employment Issues Relevant to Hong Kong’s New Talent Initiatives

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Mr. John Lee, set out plans to strengthen Hong Kong’s competitiveness in attracting enterprises and talents in his policy address[1] which include the Top Talent Pass Scheme, setting up the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises and measures to expand the city’s workforce. We will introduce some of such initiatives and also suggest the employment issues that may arise.

Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS)[2]

The TTPS seeks to attract top talents with good academic qualifications and/or rich work experience from all over the world to explore opportunities in Hong Kong. Applicants are not required to have secured an offer of employment in Hong Kong before making the applications. Persons admitted under the TTPS are granted 24 months’ stay in Hong Kong without other conditions and are free to take up and change employment during their permitted stay without having to seek prior approval from the Immigration Department.

An applicant may apply for the TTPS under one of the following conditions:

  • annual income reaching HK$2.5 million or above (or its equivalent in foreign currency) in the year immediately preceding the application;
  • bachelor’s degree graduate of one of the world’s top 100 universities, with at least three years of work experience over the past five years immediately preceding the application; or
  • bachelor’s degree graduateof one of the world’s top 100 universities in the past five years immediately preceding the application, with less than three years of work experience, subject to an annual quota (currently being 10,000) on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other talent recruitment measures

It is estimated that Hong Kong workforce has shrank by about 140,000 in the past two years. Apart from retaining and developing local people, the government is proactively recruiting globally.

The following are some measures being pursued: [3]

  • The government is streamlining the “General Employment Policy” and the “Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals”. When making applications for talent admission to Hong Kong, employers no longer have to provide proof to substantiate difficulties in local recruitment (a) for vacancies falling under the 13 professions with shortage of local supply as listed in the Talent List and (b) for vacancies with annual salary of HK$2 million or above. The Talent List to reflect the latest shortage situation in various professions will be provided by the government by the first quarter of 2023.
  • The annual quota under the “Quality Migrant Admission Scheme” is suspended for two years. At the same time, the approval process of the Scheme is being improved to attract more world-class talents to Hong Kong.
  • Under the current “Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates”[4], non-local students who have obtained an undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time and locally-accredited programme in Hong Kong may apply to stay/return and work in Hong Kong. The limit of stay has been extended from one year to two years. The scheme is expanded to include persons who have obtained an undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time programme offered by a higher education institution in the Mainland cities of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) jointly established by universities of the Mainland and Hong Kong, and allows those GBA campus graduates to apply to stay in Hong Kong for two years.

Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises (OASES)[5]

OASES is led by the Financial Secretary with a mission to attract representative and high-potential strategic enterprises from around the globe. The office will:

  • draw up a list of target enterprises to reach out to and carry out negotiations with the enterprises;
  • formulate attractive special facilitation measures covering aspects such as land, tax and financing that are applicable exclusively to target enterprises, and provide them with tailor-made plans to facilitate the setting up of their operations in Hong Kong; and
  • provide the employees of these target enterprises with one-stop facilitation services in areas such as visa application and education arrangement for their children.

It is commonly believed that the target industries may include life and health technology, artificial intelligence, data science, financial technology, advanced manufacturing, new materials and new-energy technology.[6]

Employment issues

When the talent attraction measures are being implemented, employers will have to take extra care of employment issues, such as compensation difference, fair treatment, diversity and staff morale.

The employer may have to plan ahead of the compensation policy to achieve at least two objectives – to offer an attractive package to the non-Hong Kong candidate and to avoid the local staff members being undermined, especially when the compensation or fringe benefits vary for these two groups of employees of the same rank. It is not uncommon for employer to give  READ FULL ARTICLE

Note: This material has been prepared for general information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as professional advice for any cases. Should you need further information or legal advice, please contact us.

By Rossana Chu, Jacky Chan

[1] https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2022/en/index.html

[2] https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/faq/TTPS.html

[3] https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2022/en/p29.html

[4] https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/visas/IANG.html

[5] https://www.oases.gov.hk/en/about-oases.html

[6] https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202212/23/P2022122300699.htm?fontSize=1