With the announcement of Singapore’s Budget 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has promised the introduction of a new scheme that will subsidise the wages of local workers to help them stay employed during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
The Jobs Support Scheme will offset 8 percent of the wages of every employee who is a Singaporean citizen or a permanent resident for three months, up to a monthly cap of S$3,600 per person.
This payout, worth approximately S$1.3 billion, will go to all enterprises by 31 July 2020, benefitting more than 1.9 million employees.
“Our foremost concern is jobs,” said Mr Heng. “We want to help our workers retain their jobs, and use any lull period to upgrade their skills, to be ready when the tide turns.”
Under the temporary scheme, employers will receive the 8 percent cash grant on the gross monthly wages of each local employee on their Central Provident Fund (CPF) payroll for October to December 2019.
Employers will not have to apply for the scheme to benefit, as the grant will be computed based on CPF contribution data. Mr Heng also announced enhancements to the Wage Credit Scheme, which supports wage increases for local workers.
Currently, the scheme co-funds wage increases for Singaporean employees earning a monthly wage of up to S$4,000. Mr Heng entertained the idea that this wage ceiling could potentially be raised to S$5,000 for wage increases given in 2019 and 2020.
As of now, it co-funds 15 percent of qualifying wage increases from 2019 and 10 percent of such increases this year. This will be increased to 20 percent for 2019 and 15 percent this year. These new enhancements, worth about S$1.1 billion, will be distributed to about 90,000 enterprises and benefit more than 700,000 Singaporeans.
Under the scheme, employers typically receive payouts automatically in the month of March after the qualifying year. Employers receiving additional wage credit from these new enhancements will receive a separate supplementary payout in the second half of 2020.