Bank of America returns COVID-19 Jobs Support Scheme wage subsidies

Bank of America returns COVID-19 Jobs Support Scheme wage subsidies

Bank of America Singapore Office
The Bank of America office in Singapore's downtown district. (Photo: Bank of America).

SINGAPORE: The Singapore office of Bank of America (BoA) has returned both tranches of the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts and will decline future payments, the bank’s Singapore country manager Martin Siah said on Monday (Jun 1). 

He declined to reveal the amount returned by the company, or how many of its workers are Singaporeans and permanent residents. The bank has about 1,800 employees in Singapore.

Under the JSS, which was first announced in February, the Government co-funds between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or PR employee.

To help companies retain workers amid the COVID-19 downturn, the scheme had been enhanced several times.

READ: Fortitude Budget: S$2.9 billion to boost and extend Jobs Support Scheme; SMEs to get more rental relief

BoA joins a list of companies that have returned the wage subsidies.

"This is a humanitarian crisis that is impacting all of us. As a large global bank, we have the resources and ultimately, the responsibility to support our employees and local communities," said Mr Siah.

"By returning the government financial payouts, we hope the funds will go to those who need it more."

There will be no COVID-19-related layoffs this year, he added. 

READ: Wage subsidies from Jobs Support Scheme will be used to create new jobs: Singapore banks

Its chief executive Brian Moynihan told broadcaster CNBC in March that none of the bank's over 200,000 workers will lose their jobs this year due to COVID-19. 

“No layoffs, no nothing,” Mr Moynihan had said. 

Besides returning the JSS payouts, BoA's Singapore office will be donating the rental rebates it has received so far to three non-governmental organisations - Beyond Social Services, New Hope Community Services, The Food Bank Singapore – as well as one local community fund. 

READ: Fortitude Budget: Additional S$800 million set aside for COVID-19 Support Grant; S$100 one-off utilities credit

“We are focused on supporting disadvantaged Singaporean, supporting access to food, shelter and education,” Mr Siah said. 

Another international bank, Citi Singapore, had said in May that it was returning the JSS funds and forgoing any upcoming payouts. About 80 per cent of Citi’s 8,500 employees here are Singaporeans and permanent residents. 

In the fourth and latest Budget, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that the Government will extend the JSS payouts by one more month, meaning companies will get wage subsidies for all local employees for 10 months.

READ: Bank and pharmaceutical giant among firms that returned or donated Jobs Support Scheme wage subsidies

The Ministry of Finance announced earlier in May that 32 companies returned JSS payouts worth a combined S$35 million as of May 9.

These companies had also pledged to decline future JSS payouts from the Government, MOF said then, adding that the S$35 million, which was the companies' payout for April, will be used for future disbursements. 

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Source: CNA/rp(gs)

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