SINGAPORE – The Singapore government announced it will increase wage support for local employees across all sectors in April to 75%, as part of a third wave of relief measures announced on Monday (6 April).
The aim of this strong support is to directly reduce firms' wage costs, to help them retain their workers. I expect firms to make use of this Jobs Support Scheme to continue paying your workers and refrain from putting workers on no-pay leave during this period, or worse, retrenching them,
The additional measures follow the announcement last Friday (2 April) that Singapore was to put in place “circuit-breaker” measures that will see schools and workplaces closed, except for those providing essential services.
Companies will be able to receive the first payout under the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) this month, instead of May, to ease cash flow.
The wage subsidy, which will cover the first S$4,600 of wages paid in April, is expected to apply to 1.9 million Singaporean and permanent resident employees.
Since the scheme was first announced in February, the support was been stepped up in March to provide a 25% subsidy of wages of all local employees, with higher subsidies of 50% for those in food services and 75% for those in tourism and aviation.
The payouts were to be disbursed in three batches in May, July and October, with the monthly wage cap raised from S$3,600 to S$4,600.
The raised support for April will be temporary, with the scheme to return to normal levels after.
"The aim of this strong support is to directly reduce firms' wage costs, to help them retain their workers. I expect firms to make use of this Jobs Support Scheme to continue paying your workers and refrain from putting workers on no-pay leave during this period, or worse, retrenching them," said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
The enhanced scheme was among additional measures announced to help Singapore cope with the “circuit-breaker” measures to stem the spread of Covid-19, which he termed the Solidarity Budget.
The additional subsidy from the temporary enhancement will first be calculated based on wages paid in October 2019, and later adjusted based on wages paid in April 2020.
Singapore is expected to spend a total of S$59.9 billion in relief measures, or about 12% of its GDP. This will increase the overall budget deficit for FY2020 to S$44.3 billion (or 8.9% of its GDP).
This is an unprecedented budget for extraordinary times, Mr Heng says. The situation remains highly fluid and uncertain. The Government stands ready to provide further support, should it become necessary, he adds.