In response to the economic crisis created by Covid-19, the Singapore government implemented its Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to save jobs, create new ones and seize new growth opportunities. Under the JSS, the government co-funds between 25% to 75% of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages of Singapore citizens and permanent residents. To date, more than S$16b of scheme payouts have been made.
The original JSS was slated to end by August 2020. However, the Singapore government recently announced an additional S$8b to fund a scaled-back version of the scheme up to March 2021. The level of support will be tiered by economic sector, based on the sector's prospects.
Sectors in tier one will get up to 50% wage support. This includes the aerospace, aviation, tourism and built environment sectors (support for the latter will be lowered to 30% from November 2020).
Sectors in tier two will get up to 30% wage support. This includes the arts and entertainment, food services and retail, land transport and marine and offshore sectors.
Most other sectors will get up to 10% wage support, with support for sectors that are doing well (for example, financial services, biomedical sciences and technology) being phased out by the end of the year.
Additionally, a S$1b Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) programme will be launched. This aims to encourage firms to increase their headcount of local workers, especially mature ones. The Singapore government will co-pay up to 25% of salaries of new local hires for one year. This co-payment will increase to 50% for workers aged 40 and above. More details of the programme will be provided later this month.
These initiatives demonstrate the Singapore government's recognition that continued financial support will be necessary to alleviate the hardship many sectors of the economy continue to face. The tiered approach also recognises the tremendous strain previous measures have already placed on the budget, as well as the uneven impact of Covid-19. The JGI highlights the Singapore government's sensitivity to increased public scrutiny of employment opportunities for local workers. Businesses can expect more focus on these issues moving forward.