Money Matter

Summer workers enjoy MPF rights

Article exclusively contributed by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority

Albert, who is aged 21, is currently a second-year student at a local university, majoring in electronic engineering. At the beginning of the summer holidays, he decided to look for a summer job and was employed as a temporary clerk by an engineering company. Albert signed a contract with his employer on a three-month basis, from June to August.

Albert knew that he had to join the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) scheme but his employer did not make these arrangements for him during the period of his employment. Albert went to Jimmy, his department supervisor, to seek clarification of the issue.

"The MPF Ordinance states that employers have to enroll employees who have been employed by them for not less than 60 days in an MPF scheme. Why didn't the company do this for me?" Albert asked. "That's not right. You're only a student and work for our company during the summer. So you're not entitled to any MPF benefits," said Jimmy.

"It's totally unfair! Didn't the Ordinance cover summer student workers?" Albert said angrily. "No. I'm really sorry about this," Jimmy replied.

Is Albert entitled to enjoy MPF rights?

Under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance,
- Employers have to enroll their employees who are aged between 18 and 65 onto MPF schemes. An employee is defined as any full-time or part-time employee who is employed for a continuous period of not less than 60 days under an employment contract.
- Every employer of a relevant employee must take all practicable steps to ensure that the employee becomes a member of a registered scheme within 60 days of the date of his employment.

According to the Ordinance, a summer worker, regardless of whether he or she is full-time or part-time, is therefore regarded as one of the employees in his company. In Albert's case, he was eligible to enjoy MPF rights because:
1) He was over 18 years old;
2) He engaged in an employment contract with his employer under the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong Employment Ordinance; and
3) He was employed by his company for a continuous period of over 60 days.

Albert's employer should therefore deduct five percent of Albert's relevant income as a mandatory contribution to a registered MPF scheme. Meanwhile, his employer is also required to contribute a matching amount, which will immediately be vested in Albert as his accrued benefit in the scheme.

MPF is an employment-based retirement protection system. Failure by employers to make an MPF contribution may result in a maximum penalty of six months' imprisonment and a fine of HK$100,000.

Q & A about the Mandatory Provident Fund
Q1 Am I required to enroll into an MPF scheme if I am a university summer intern?
A1 You are not required to enroll into an MPF scheme as you have met the following requirements: - You are a full-time student of an academic institution which is funded through the University Grants Committee; - The on-the-job training performed by you is one of your curriculum requirements; - Your attachment to the companies is of limited duration and you will return to your academic institution to continue your studies; - The functions carried out by you are predominantly educational and of a training nature; and - The pay or allowance, if any, received by you is consistent with the training nature of the attachment.
Academic institutions are required to provide the MPFA with proof of whether or not you meet the above requirements, when necessary.

Q2 Does the MPF system cover me if I am a part-time summer employee working for my employer for less than 18 hours a week?
A2 If, under an employment contract, your employer employs you for 60 calendar days or more, the MPF System covers you regardless of the number of hours you work. Your employer is required to enroll you in an MPF scheme.

Q3 How do I know if my employer has enrolled me in an MPF scheme?
A3 After your employer has enrolled you in an MPF scheme, the trustee of the scheme is required to provide you with an acceptance notice within 30 days and a membership certificate within 60 days. In addition, the MPFA will issue a participation certificate to your employer and he or she is required to display it at the premises where you are employed. You are also able to check with your trustee via the Internet or by calling the MPFA hotline, tel: 2918 0102.

Taken from Career Times 20 June 2003

(Last review date: 23 August 2013)

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