SINGAPORE: More than S$5.5 billion in Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts will be disbursed to employers from Oct 29.
The payouts will be given to more than 140,000 employers to subsidise the wages of about 1.9 million local employees, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS) on Monday (Oct 19).
This is S$1.5 billion more than the last round of disbursement in July.
With the October payouts, more than S$21.5 billion in JSS support would have been given out, said the authorities in a joint media release.
First announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in February's Budget, the JSS is a wage subsidy programme aimed to help companies retain and pay their workers as businesses take a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help protect jobs, the Government co-funds between 25 per cent to 75 per cent of the first S$4,600 of the gross monthly wages paid to each Singaporean or permanent resident employee.
The scheme was set to expire after the October payouts, but Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, announced in August that the Government will be extending it by seven more months - but in a tiered approach, depending on how badly hurt the sector is - to cover wages up to March 2021.
READ: Extension of Jobs Support Scheme among S$8 billion worth of measures announced by Heng Swee Keat
For the October payouts, companies will receive support for local employees’ wages paid in June, July, and August this year, based on the industry they are in.
Employers in the aviation, tourism, and built environment sectors, which are severely impacted by the pandemic, will receive 75 per cent support. Those in the food services, retail, arts and entertainment, land transport, and marine and offshore will receive 50 per cent support.
Employers in all other sectors will receive 25 per cent support.
In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr Heng urged all employers to "do their best to retain their workers during this difficult period".
"Jobs remain a key priority as we continue to support our workers and businesses through this crisis," he wrote.
Firms in industries that were not allowed to resume on-site operations after the “circuit breaker” will receive 75 per cent support for that period of time, said the authorities.
Eligible employers will be notified by post of their payout amount. They can also log in to myTax Portal to view the electronic copy of their letter.
Employers with PayNow Corporate or GIRO arrangements with IRAS can expect to receive the money earlier from Oct 29.
Other employers will receive their cheques from Nov 4, but they can sign up for a PayNow Corporate account by Oct 23 to receive their payouts earlier, said MOF and IRAS.
CHECKS TO PREVENT FRAUD
MOF warned that the penalties for any attempt to abuse the JSS are severe, including a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine, on top of having their payouts denied.
“It is vital that employers contribute the right amount of CPF (Central Provident Fund) for their employees, based on actual wages paid,” the authorities said.
“Employers’ CPF contributions are used to determine the amount of JSS payout.”
READ: Nearly S$10 million in Jobs Support Scheme payouts denied to firms with 'unacceptable practices'
As part of the checks for JSS eligibility, a small number of employers will receive letters from IRAS asking them to conduct a self-review of their CPF contributions and to provide declarations or documents to substantiate their eligibility for the payouts.
Their October payout will be withheld pending the self-review and verifications by IRAS. The payout will be disbursed after the completion of the review.
Businesses or individuals who wish to disclose any malpractices or potential abuses of the JSS can report to firstname.lastname@example.org or online at go.gov.sg/jssreport.