SINGAPORE - Employers hiring former offenders will receive more government support in the form of wage offsets through the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) scheme, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in a Facebook post on Friday (Dec 4) evening.
"For employers that include ex-offenders in their workforce expansion, we will provide the higher level of wage support of 50 per cent, regardless of age," she said.
The JGI is a scheme that was introduced by the government in August to support the hiring of more local workers. It is part of government efforts to deal with the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is a two-tier system in which employers will receive either a 50 per cent or a 25 per cent wage co-payment for new local hires, depending on their age. The government subsidy will be applied to the first $5,000 of their salaries, and lasts for 12 months from the date they are hired. This means that an employer with a worker who qualifies for the 50 per cent co-payment and is drawing $2,000 per month will have $1,000 refunded each month by the Government for a year.
Employers hiring former offenders will immediately qualify for the higher tier of 50 per cent wage offset.
Additional support for former offenders through the JGI was first suggested by MP for Bukit Batok Murali Pillai in Parliament in October. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat supported the idea at the time, and said that details would be announced by the Ministry of Manpower at a later date.
There are six payout dates for the JGI, the first of which will be in March next year.
Mrs Teo added that the benefit will automatically be applied to employers who have hired former offenders through Yellow Ribbon Singapore, Industrial and Services Co-operative Society or halfway houses in contact with the Singapore Prison Service (Captains of Lives) programme. All other employers should apply for the benefit.
ISCOS, a co-operative that supports the re-integration of ex-offenders to society, welcomed the news, adding that it hoped they would also receive more training.
“We believe that more training support is beneficial for ex-offenders to upskill and progress in their career. Employers would also need to be supportive of their training for that to happen especially for training that may cut into their working hours,” ISCOS’s executive director Doris Ng said on Friday in response to queries from The Straits Times.
She added that employers and direct supervisors as well as co-workers would also benefit from training programmes or briefings and dialogue sessions to help them better understand ex-offenders.
“The fears and emotional upheavals the ex-offenders go through when they are just released from prison is very real,” she said.
In her Facebook post, Mrs Teo also stressed the need to empathise with ex-offenders.
"Each year, around 10,000 offenders leave our prisons to start a new life. They face challenges, among which is getting back to work. Yet it is so important that they do, to return as full members of society again," she said.
"I urge employers to be inclusive. Give an ex-offender that second chance at rebuilding a new life."
For more information about the JGI, visit this website.