The Government has devised a confidential plan to push through controversial changes to the proposed Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) in an attempt to ensure the legislation is passed before the handover. It is willing to make several concessions to win the support of key legislative councillors needed to pass the vote, a leaked memo says. The Government has had to pay special attention to legislators' needs since the MPF was almost scrapped after a fierce debate in the Legislative Council (Legco) over funding for the MPF Office. Some legislators threatened to withdraw all support for the scheme unless their demands were met. Even if legislators are satisfied with the Government's concessions, the MPF still faces strong opposition from employer groups, who say several of the proposals are unacceptable. The Government, employers, and employee representatives have been in talks attempting to clarify how the MPF would interface with the Occupational Retirement Scheme Ordinance (Orso), containing about 770,000 employees. Benefits under Orso are generally more generous than the compulsory contributions to be made by about 2.9 million workers eligible for MPF membership. Controversy has flared between Legco members and employers because of seven demands set down by Legco. These range from improving the right of employees to choose between the two schemes, through to making employers criminally liable if they prevent employees making a free choice. The Government will attempt to strike a compromise between employers and Legco by scrapping three proposed reforms and pushing through the remaining four. Those planned to be axed would be measures making it mandatory for employers in Orso schemes to make 'immediate and full' top-up payments in line with the MPF; extending the MPF compensation fund to cover Orso members; and, enabling employees to negotiate with their employers upon reduction of their future benefits. The Government is planning to push ahead with some of the most controversial measures, including the introduction of criminal charges for employers who stop workers from making a free choice. The leaked memo says: 'The Administration does not propose to impose, at this stage, criminal sanction on employers. However, the situation will be reviewed in the light of experience after the implementation of the MPF system.' The Government will tone down a Legco proposal withdrawing employers' rights to withhold their funded portion of pension benefits of a sacked employee. It is planning to limit the forfeited amount to that in excess of the minimum MPF benefits. The memo says: 'We also propose that upon dismissal, the existing members' minimum benefits should be transferred to an MPF scheme and preserved in the MPF system until retirement or other circumstances permitted by the MPF rules.' The Government will also accept Legco proposals for a deadline within which the trustees and investment managers must meet the new standards. The Government will also attempt to push through the Legco suggestion giving employees an option to choose between Orso and MPF coverage upon any change of benefits instead of only upon reduction in benefits.