Wage subsidies under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended by up to seven months to help employers to retain their local workers.
Subsidies under the scheme will now cover wages paid up to March 2021 for firms in sectors that have been hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns. For sectors that have managed to cope decently well, the wage extension will stretch all the way to December 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said.
The support, which will range from 10 to 50 percent for wages paid from September onwards, will be adjusted based on the projected recovery of the different sectors, said Mr Heng in a ministerial statement on how the Government will continue to support businesses and workers.
“We cannot sustain the JSS at current levels,” he said. “It draws heavily on our reserves and risks trapping our workers in unviable businesses. Some sectors are also recovering faster than others.”
The subsidy applies to the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or permanent resident employee.
Firms that have been suffered the most under the COVId-19 restriction include those in aerospace, aviation, and tourism. These sectors will receive up to 50 percent of wages paid from September until March.
Those in the built environment sector will receive 50 percent of wages paid in September and October, and then 30 percent of wages paid until March, as construction activity resumes in phases.
Sectors that have been less affected by the pandemic include the arts and entertainment, food services, land transport, marine and offshore, and retail. As such, they will be receiving 30 percent of wages paid until March.
Biomedical sciences, precision engineering, electronics, financial services, infocom technology and media, online retail, and supermarkets have all managed well throughout the pandemic and lockdown periods. These sectors have suffered the least amount of consequences as a result of COVID-19 and will receive 10 percent of wages paid until December this year.
Being first introduced in February 2020 and subsequently enhanced, the JSS scheme has subsidised between 25 percent and 75 percent of wages paid for 10 months. Originally, the scheme was intended to only cover wages paid until July, with final payouts being conducted in October. However, now there will be additional payouts in March and June next year for relevant firms.
“I urge all businesses to make full use of this additional support to retain and upskill your workers, and to transform your operations for the post-Covid-19 world. This will enable you to spring back faster when the recovery comes,” said Mr Heng.
In his address, Mr Heng said more than S$16 billion of the S$23.5 billion allocated for the scheme has been disbursed so far, benefiting over two million local workers in more than 150,000 firms.
Nearly 600 firms who have been doing decently well under the strenuous economic climate have returned or donated their JSS payouts in a show of solidarity and in an effort to assist other businesses who are struggling to survive. Mr Heng urged firms which are coping well to do likewise.
Even at 10 per cent support, the wage subsidies still cover more than half of employers’ Central Provident Fund contributions for workers, he said.
“This ensures that we continue to build up the CPF savings of our workers during the crisis,” he said.