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Article | MPFexpress

Understanding the MPF arrangements for overseas employees

By Elaine Hwang and William Chow | August 30, 2023

Familiarize yourself with the MPF arrangements for your international workforce. This article in English and Chinese is available for download.

Being an international trade and finance centre, Hong Kong is home to many overseas employees across many different business sectors. Whether employers arrange for foreign employees to apply for work visas under Section 11 of the Immigration Ordinance or import foreign workers through the government's Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS), understanding and becoming familiar with the MPF scheme is crucial.

Definition of regular employees

According to the MPF Ordinance, regular employees who are required to participate in MPF are employees aged 18 to 64 who have been employed in any industry for a continuous period of 60 days or more. There are certain exemptions, such as domestic employees and self-employed hawkers. If an overseas employee enters Hong Kong under Section 11 of the Immigration Ordinance for the purpose of employment (1) for no more than 13 months or (2) is a member of a retirement scheme outside Hong Kong, the person is also exempt from joining an MPF scheme.

In other words, if an overseas employee is granted permission to stay for a period exceeding 13 months, the person is treated the same as a “regular” local employee, and the employer must enrol them in an MPF scheme within 60 days of the person’s employment. If an overseas employee initially has an employment contract which is less than 13 months, but the employee’s work visa is extended, allowing the person to stay in Hong Kong for more than 13 months, the employee’s exemption ceases after 13 months. As such, the Employer must enrol the employee in an MPF scheme within 60 days from the day on which the employee ceases to be exempted.

Contribution requirements and withdrawal restrictions are the same

As with all local employees, employers should help overseas employees with their enrolment in an MPF scheme and fulfil their contribution obligations. Employers should also explain the relevant legal requirements to overseas employees who are less familiar with Hong Kong’s MPF requirements. This includes employee contribution requirements and restrictions on withdrawing benefits, allowing overseas employees to understand their benefits, trustee's administrative and investment arrangements, investment fund options, etc. Since employers will deduct the employee’s MPF contributions from the employee's income and pay it to the trustee, the employee's take-home pay will be lower than the contractually stated amount. Employers should explain and communicate this in advance to avoid any misunderstandings. In addition to mandatory contributions, overseas employees should also understand if any voluntary contributions are required, as well as the separate concept of tax-deductible voluntary contributions (TVCs).

In general, the MPF contribution and withdrawal arrangements for overseas employees are the same as those for local employees. They may withdraw their MPF contributions upon reaching age 65 (or if they meet other payment conditions). However, employees can also withdraw their MPF benefits in a lump sum by declaring that they have departed or will depart from Hong Kong, but they will not be paid MPF again for all subsequent applications on the same grounds.

Arrangements for meals and accommodation

As a part of an overseas employee’s benefits package, some employers provide meal allowance and/or accommodation arrangements. Generally, if these arrangements are provided or paid for directly by the employer, they do not form part of the employee's MPF relevant income and do not need to be considered when calculating MPF contributions.

Hiring overseas employees and importing foreign talent are aimed at strengthening Hong Kong's labour force to meet demand, thereby retaining talent is thereby the key to solving labour shortages. Helping overseas employees to understand the way the MPF forms a part of retirement savings and protection will strengthen their trust in their employer and the Hong Kong labour market, and will ensure a stable supply of talent in Hong Kong.


Senior Director & Business Development Lead, Greater China

Head of Retirement, Hong Kong & Macau

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