SINGAPORE: Companies will get additional wage support for local employees in April, up from a minimum of 25 per cent, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in Parliament on Monday (Apr 6).
"I will raise the wage subsidy for all firms to 75 per cent of gross monthly wages, for the first S$4,600 of wages paid in April 2020," said Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister.
This wage subsidy applies to more than 1.9 million local employees, said Mr Heng.
READ: S$600 cash support for all adult Singaporeans, other cash payouts to be brought forward to June
The wage cap of S$4,600 does not mean that workers earning more than that do not qualify, he said, but the maximum subsidy to the firms will be capped at S$3,450 for each person. A monthly salary of S$4,600 is the median wage in Singapore.
On Mar 26, he had already boosted the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), first announced in Budget 2020 in February.
Most firms were originally to get 25 per cent of wage subsidies, with those in the food services sector getting 50 per cent, while the aviation and tourism sectors were already receiving 75 per cent.
Besides raising the subsidies, the first JSS payout will be brought forward to April, with some firms to receive the first tranche next week.
"I expect firms to make use of this Jobs Support Scheme to continue paying your workers and refrain from putting workers on no-pay leave during this period, or worse, retrenching them," said Mr Heng.
Employers who do not pay wages in April this year, for example by putting the employee on no-pay leave, will not benefit from the increase, the Ministry of Finance said in details provided on the scheme.
This is because the additional subsidy in April will be computed based on salaries paid in October 2019, but will be adjusted for wages paid in April 2020.
The S$5.1 billion Solidarity Budget is the third round of measures drawn up to ease the economic difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.
It comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Friday that Singapore will impose far stricter measures to pre-empt escalating coronavirus infections, which are to start on Tuesday.
Most work places will close, except for essential services and key economic sectors, and schools are to start full home-based learning from Wednesday. Mr Lee also urged everyone to stay at home, avoid socialising and to go out only to do essential things.
Singapore reported its highest daily spike of 120 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the cumulative total to 1,309 infections since the first case was reported here on Jan 23. Six people infected with the virus have died.
READ: Singapore sees record daily spike of 120 COVID-19 cases, 'significant number' linked to worker dormitories
Locally transmitted cases have risen in recent weeks, with several new clusters identified at foreign worker dormitories, pre-schools and a nursing home. More than 300 have recovered and been discharged.
Around the world, the number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 1.2 million and more than 68,000 have died. The United States has the most number of cases – more than 300,000 – followed by Spain and Italy.