Coronavirus: Employers to get $4b in job support payouts this month

This month's payouts will be computed based on last November's wages.
This month's payouts will be computed based on last November's wages.PHOTO: ST FILE

Over 140,000 employers to benefit; firms urged to use wage support to retain workers

More than 140,000 employers will get over $4 billion in Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts from May 28, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

The figure is part of more than $20 billion committed over three Covid-19 support packages to the scheme, which will subsidise 75 per cent of the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages per local worker for this month.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said the wage support for firms in Singapore is very significant, and urged them to use the subsidies to retain workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

His remarks come as Singapore enters its final two weeks of the eight-week-long circuit breaker, with 682 more coronavirus cases confirmed yesterday. The vast majority were migrant workers living in dormitories, with four Singaporeans and permanent residents.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the multi-ministry virus task force, said the end of the circuit breaker on June 1 does not mean its measures, meant to control the virus' spread, will be lifted overnight.

"It won't simply be a return to life before the circuit breaker," he said yesterday, noting that the Government will adopt a careful and calibrated approach as the country resumes normal activities at work, schools and in social settings.

In fact, people should be fully prepared that many of the current restrictions will continue for some time, said Mr Wong, adding that the Government is preparing for the next phase and considering what activities can resume safely.

"A controlled and phased exit from the circuit breaker will require patience and discipline from all of us," he said. "We must all do our part to control the spread of the virus and ensure that it does not flare up again. Otherwise all our efforts and sacrifices during this circuit breaker period would have been made in vain."

The construction sector, for example, will restart on a few critical projects with very tight safeguards from June 2. These include requiring workers for a project to be housed together, instead of in multiple dormitories, as well as testing workers at two-week intervals.


GRAPHIC: IRAS

The number of construction workers involved in projects will scale up over time as the industry gains confidence and experience with the measures, Mr Wong said.

Construction work has been largely suspended since the circuit breaker started on April 7, with only 5 per cent of the sector's workforce - about 20,000 workers - continuing on a few essential projects. Another 5 per cent is expected to resume work gradually, meaning about one-tenth of the usual workforce will be active next month.

PHASED EXIT

It won't simply be a return to life before the circuit breaker...A controlled and phased exit from the circuit breaker will require patience and discipline from all of us.

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER LAWRENCE WONG

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said employers need not apply for the JSS as the money will be automatically computed using Central Provident Fund data as at Feb 14.

Employers who register for PayNow Corporate with their banks by Friday can expect to receive the payment by May 28, the ministry added. Others will get cheques between June 3 and 5.

This month's payouts will be computed based on last November's wages, and future JSS payouts will be adjusted to account for the actual wages paid this month.

MOF added that some local employees who are also shareholders and directors of firms qualify for the JSS this month under an enhancement announced on April 21. They will also get backdated payments from last month.

 
 
 
 

This will benefit some 50,000 shareholder-directors with assessable income of $100,000 or less in the year of assessment 2019. They form part of the more than 1.9 million workers that the JSS will help in total.

Mr Heng also thanked companies that returned their payouts.

As of May 9, 32 companies have returned $35 million in JSS payouts to the Government and also pledged to decline further payouts.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2020, with the headline 'Employers to get $4b in job support payouts this month'. Print Edition | Subscribe