The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 (Amendment Ordinance) will introduce legislative changes in three key stages: (1) certain minor amendments took immediate effect when the Amendment Ordinance was enacted on 30 January 2015; (2) withdrawals in the case of terminal illness and a number of other changes, as further discussed below, will take effect on 1 August 2015; and (3) changes permitting phased rather than lump sum final withdrawal, which are expected to take effect in early 2016.
The Amendment Ordinance Commencement Notice gazetted on 15 May 2015 confirms that the following changes will take effect on 1 August 2015:
- withdrawal of MPF benefits on the ground of terminal illness;
- streamlining of the procedures for withdrawal of MPF benefits on the ground of total incapacity;
- aligning the time limit for paying out MPF benefits, whether or not any surcharge or contribution is outstanding on the day when a claim is lodged, to 30 days after lodgement of the claim or the contribution day in respect of the last contribution period that ends before the lodgement of claim, whichever is the later;
- combining the notice of acceptance and membership certificate into a notice of participation, and removing the requirement for an employer participation certificate;
- subject to member consent given in prescribed form, notices and documents may be made available through websites or other electronic means, provided members are notified of the availability of such notices or documents through permitted means.
The remaining changes to be introduced by the Amendment Ordinance relate principally to phased withdrawal, where members who become entitled to withdraw MPF benefits under specified grounds may apply to withdraw such benefits in phases rather than as a lump sum. These changes are expected to take effect in early 2016.
It is worth noting that the Amendment Ordinance will also bring about changes to the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (Exemption) Regulation, which applies to MPF exempted ORSO schemes. “Terminal illness” will be added as an additional ground for withdrawal of minimum MPF benefits, and in this connection the definition of “final average monthly relevant income” and “years of post-MPF service” will be amended. ORSO administrators may therefore also wish to revisit the relevant scheme rules to ensure that the related provisions remain up-to-date, and appropriate procedures are in place to handle such withdrawal claims. These changes will also take effect on 1 August 2015.