Last month, Singapore’s health services observed an increase in community transmission of Covid-19 driven by a range of “mask-off” activities including indoor sports, cosmetic services and dining out.
In response to the increased number of community-based infections, Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce introduced additional measures as part of its planned Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions, in effect from 16 May to 13 June 2021. Those restrictions include limitations on the number of people allowed in social gatherings, workplaces, food and beverage outlets, shopping malls, cinemas, and a range of similar public and private contexts. Limitations have also been placed on public and private events.
The Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) restrictions will obviously have a significant financial effect on both employers and employees. To mitigate the negative effects of the restrictions and the downturn caused by the pandemic, Singapore’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) has allocated relief funds and introduced a range of support measures to help individuals and businesses that have been adversely affected.
As an employer or employee in Singapore, it is important to understand what kind of support is available.
Support for Individuals:
The Ministry of Finance has introduced the following measures to help individual Singaporeans during Phase 2:
Covid-19 Recovery Grant: The CRG is intended to help lower to middle-income workers in Singapore who have been ‘significantly affected’ by pandemic restrictions. The MOF has introduced two tiers of CRG support:
A one-off support package designed to help individuals that are not currently receiving CRG support. The package involves:
- A payment of up to $700 for employees that have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave for a period of 1 month or more.
- A payment of $500 for all employees or self-employed persons that have suffered (or will suffer) a loss of income of 50% or more for a period of 1 month or more.
An ongoing support package to help individuals that have been impacted financially for an extended period over 2021. The ongoing CRG support involves:
- Payments of $700 per month (for up to 3 months) for individuals that have been made unemployed or those that have been on involuntary no-pay leave for 3 consecutive months.
- Payments of $500 for all employees or self-employed persons that have suffered (or will suffer) an average loss of income of 50% for 3 consecutive months.
The ongoing CRG support may be accessed twice (by eligible individuals), for a total of 6 months’ support.
Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund: The CDRF offers all professional drivers in Singapore $750 per vehicle per month, for a period running from 16 May to 30 June 2021. The $750 comes in addition to existing CDRF support measures.
MOE Loan Repayment Suspension: Repayments of Tuition Fee Loans, Study Loans, and Overseas Student Programme Loans and associated interest charges have been suspended for a further four months - until 30 September 2021. The suspension applies to graduates of all autonomous university and polytechnic institutions in Singapore.
Support for Employers and Employees:
MOF has allocated around $800 million of support funding for workers and businesses during Phase 2. The funding measures include:
- Food & Beverage, Sports, and the Performing Arts Industries: An enhanced 50% co-funding under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), for the duration of Phase 2, for businesses such as restaurants, bars, gyms, and theatre groups.
- Retail, Family Attractions, and Personal Care Industries: An enhanced co-funding 30% under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), for the duration of Phase 2, for businesses such as cinemas, galleries, tourist attractions, playgrounds, and personal care services.
- SME and NPO Tenant-Occupiers of Commercial Properties: The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will disburse pay-outs to eligible tenants equivalent to a half month of rent. Eligible tenants of government-owned properties will receive relief equivalent to 1 month’s rent.
The increased JSS support runs from 16 May to 13 June 2021 – with pay-outs scheduled for disbursement in September 2021.