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MPF (Mandatory Provident Fund)
Hong Kong has a rapidly ageing population. In 2009, the proportion of the population over the age of 65 was around 13 percent, but by 2039 this is projected to rise to 28 percent. This is due to both a low birth rate and increasing life expectancy in Hong Kong. This ageing population means the working population of the future will have a much larger number of retirees to support.
Before the implementation of the MPF System, only about one-third of the Hong Kong workforce had some form of retirement protection. Such retirement protection arrangements included statutory pensions and provident funds for civil servants and school teachers, and retirement schemes set up by employers voluntarily for their employees. It was becoming clear that these arrangements were inadequate to provide for the entire ageing workforce over the long term.
The debate for a suitable retirement protection system in Hong Kong has gone on since the 1960s. A number of different systems were proposed, including privately managed provident funds, a central provident fund, and a pay-as-you-go type of benefit system. In 1994, the World Bank published the report "Averting the Old-Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote Growth", in which a three-pillar approach to protection for the aged was put forward. The three pillars were:
The MPF System in Hong Kong was designed to form the second pillar of this approach for retirement protection. In 1995, the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (MPFSO) was enacted, supplemented by subsidiary legislation passed in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The MPF System was launched in December 2000.
The MPF is an employment-based retirement protection system. Except for certain exempt persons (see below), if you are an employee or are self-employed, are aged 18 to aged below 65, and are normally residing and working in Hong Kong, you are required to join an MPF scheme.
Your employer is statutorily obliged to enrol you in one of the registered MPF schemes available in the market. These include Master Trust Schemes, Employer-sponsored Schemes and Industry Schemes.
Except for exempt persons, you are required to enrol both full-time and part-time employees in a registered MPF scheme. All employees aged 18 to aged below 65 and employed for 60 days or more must be enrolled in a scheme.
You may select one or more MPF schemes available in the market and enrol your employees in these schemes. You are required to display the participation certificate issued by the MPFA.
If you fall within the definition of a "self-employed person", and you are aged 18 to aged below 65, you must enrol yourself in an MPF scheme. You are required to make mandatory contributions if you earn not less than the minimum income level (i.e. currently $7,100 a month or $85,200 a year).
For both employees and employers, it is mandatory to make regular contributions into an MPF scheme. If you are an employee, subject to the maximum and minimum levels of income (currently $30,000 and $7,100 per month respectively), your employer will deduct 5% of your relevant income on your behalf as mandatory contributions to a registered MPF scheme. However, you are not required to make contributions for the first 30 days of your new employment and the following incomplete contribution period. Your employer will also be required to contribute an amount equivalent to 5% of your relevant income to the MPF scheme, subject only to the maximum level of income (currently $30,000 per month). This amount will immediately be vested in you as your accrued benefits in the scheme.
If you are self-employed, subject to the maximum and minimum levels of income (currently $30,000 and $7,100 per month respectively or $360,000 and $85,200 per year respectively), you have to contribute 5% of your relevant income. Self-employed persons can opt to make contributions on a monthly or yearly basis.
"Relevant income" refers to all payments in monetary terms given to employees, including wages, salary, leave pay, fee, commission, bonus, gratuity, perquisite or allowance (including housing allowance or other housing benefit), but excluding severance payments and long service payments.
Both you and your employer can opt to make extra, voluntary contributions in addition to your mandatory contributions.
Since the MPF System was introduced to help you, as an income earner, save for your old age, it makes sense that you can only claim for payment of accrued benefits when you reach the age of 65, as stipulated in the MPFSO. However, there are circumstances under which accrued benefits may be paid before reaching the age of 65. They are: