Govt urged to lower threshold for jobless relief

The Federation of Trade Unions (FTU) on Thursday urged the government to relax the criteria for an unemployment subsidy set up for workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among other requirements, applicants must have been out of job for 30 straight days.

But the federation said those who work odd jobs for a few days within the month should not have been excluded.

It surveyed 328 people online earlier this month, and found that most of the 187 people who applied for the one-off HK$10,000 subsidy under the Temporary Unemployment Relief Scheme had been turned down.

Anthony Yau of the FTU’s rights and benefits committee said many missed out because they were not able to meet the requirement, even though they had not been earning much during the fifth Covid wave.

“For temporary or part-time employees, they might be able to go to work for one to two days each month, earning around HK$1,000, but that already meant they are not eligible for the scheme,” he said.

“Could authorities be more lenient in handling these applications by considering how much a person actually earns in a month?” Yau suggested, adding authorities should lift the HK$30,000 salary cap as well.

The unionist group said the administration should extend the period for applicants to hand in supplementary documents from the existing five days to two weeks, and consider setting up an appeal mechanism.

It also expressed worries that the labour market might not improve in the short term, as it called on authorities to help the underemployed as well.