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COVID-19: Updated advisory on salary and leave arrangements
Source: Ministry of Manpower
Issued on 9th June 2020
- Singapore exited the Circuit Breaker on 2 June. For Phase One (“Safe Re-opening”), businesses that operate in settings with lower risks of COVID-19 transmission1 can start to re-open with Safe Management Measures in place. More activities will gradually resume in Phase Two (“Safe Transition”) when the COVID-19 situation further improves.
- The tripartite partners are issuing this updated advisory to guide employers and employees on salary and leave arrangements post-Circuit Breaker. This supersedes the Advisory on salary and leave arrangements during Circuit Breaker updated on 25 April 2020.
Guide on salary and leave arrangements
- The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) announced by the Government is meant to support employers to retain and continue to pay their local employees (Singaporeans and Permanent Residents), even during periods of reduced business activity.
- The JSS has been extended to cover August 2020 wages and the level of support has also been enhanced for more severely affected sectors2. For employers that cannot resume business operations, the Government will continue to provide wage support at 75% until August 2020, or when they are allowed to re-open, whichever is earlier.
Cost-saving measures could continue
- Some employers have been severely affected by COVID-19. These employers would have worked out cost-saving measures with their unions and employees to save jobs, taking into consideration the JSS. They may, for example, seek employees’ consent to take a few days of no-pay leave each month. Such cost-saving measures that have been agreed to should continue as necessary.
Employers whose businesses are operating
- Local employees who continue to work fully must be paid their prevailing salaries including the employers’ contributions to CPF.
- Some businesses may take time to resume operations fully, or may need to scale down their operations resulting in excess manpower. The tripartite partners strongly encourage employers to take a long-term view of their manpower needs and responsibly implement the cost-saving measures outlined in the Tripartite Advisory on Managing Excess Manpower and Responsible Retrenchment (“TAMEM”).
Employers that cannot resume business operations
- Employers that cannot resume operations in Phase One continue t0 receive enhanced JSS support of 75%. They should pay local employees a baseline monthly salary, including the employers’ contributions to CPF, as recommended in Table 1 below:
Table 1: Recommended Salary Arrangements
- After implementing the salary arrangements in Table 1 above, if the local employee’s salary is still below his prevailing monthly salary, the employer should, as far as possible, consider the following measures to top up the shortfall:
- Send the employee for relevant or suitable training courses approved for Absentee Payroll FundingAbsentee Payroll Funding so that the overall salary paid to the employee during the training period would be mostly supported by the Government;
- Apply for Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) which allows “time-banking” of additional salary payments to offset overtime payments in the future;
- Allow the employee to consume his existing leave entitlements; or
- Grant additional paid leave to the employee.
- Where possible, employers should also allow and support their local employees to take on a second job (e.g. part-time or temporary job with another employer) in companies or public agencies that are operating to make up for the employees’ loss of income. Employers can refer to the Guide on second job arrangements for employees with reduced work hours in response to COVID-19. Employers may also wish to encourage affected employees to consider suitable job opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs Initiative.
- In this extraordinary period, we recognise that some employers can themselves be facing financial difficulties with poor business prospects. As a result, they may not be able to adhere to the recommendations outlined in Paragraphs 8 and 9, and may instead need to use the enhanced JSS payouts to cover some fixed overheads to keep the business going. Notwithstanding this, employers should not act unilaterally and put their local employees on prolonged no-pay leave without any baseline salary. Employers should discuss with their unions and employees and come to an agreement on how the JSS payouts are to be used to ensure their business survival as well as provide some salary support to their employees. If there is no mutual agreement, either party can contractually terminate the employment with notice as required under the employment contract or Employment Act.
- In working out such arrangements, employers should give special consideration to their lower-wage employees (e.g. employees who qualify for Workfare Income Supplement) and provide more support to them to alleviate any hardship.
- Employers should ensure that they continue to take care of the well-being of all their foreign employees in Singapore. For work permit holders, there is a legal obligation on employers to provide upkeep and maintenance while they are in Singapore.
- As with local employees, foreign employees who work full-time must be paid their prevailing salaries. Some foreign employees may not able to resume full-time work in Singapore because their employers are only allowed to resume operations partially or face poor business prospects. In such instances, we encourage these employers to continue to pay the employees their prevailing salaries by considering the following:
- Allow the employee to consume his existing leave entitlements;
- Redeploy the affected foreign employee to another role within the company;
- Provide the foreign employee with relevant training and upskilling to get ready for the full resumption of business activities; or
- Apply for Flexible Work Schedule (FWS) which allows “time-banking” of salary payments for unworked hours to offset overtime payments in the future.
- If it is not possible for employers to pay prevailing salaries because of the need to reduce wage costs after considering non-wage cost reductions, employers should engage and mutually agree with their unions and foreign employees on the appropriate salary and leave arrangements during this period. If a foreign employee were to be placed on no-pay leave for an extended duration, the employer must obtain his consent in writing. If there is no mutual agreement, either party can contractually terminate the employment with notice as required under the employment contract or Employment Act.
- For businesses that are not in MTI’s permitted list to resume full operations on-site, and for all businesses in the construction, marine shipyard, and process sectors, the Government is extending the Foreign Worker Levy (FWL) waiver and rebate for up to two months. This will help these firms manage their costs and improve their cashflow until they are able to resume business activities. The FWL waiver and rebate that eligible employers will receive per qualifying work permit or S Pass holder are:
- June 2020: 100% waiver of May levies due in June and a $750 FWL rebate; and
- July 2020: 50% waiver of June levies due in July and a $375 FWL rebate.
Notification requirements for cost-saving measures with salary reductions post-Circuit Breaker
- Employers that implement cost-saving measures post-Circuit Breaker must continue to notify MOM if the cost-saving measures result in more than 25% reduction in the monthly salaries of their employees and the employer has at least 10 employees.
Reminder to all employers and employees
- All employers are reminded to treat employees, both local and foreign, fairly and responsibly, taking into consideration the significant support provided by the Government to manage business costs and protect jobs. Employers should follow the guidelines on salary and leave arrangements as set out in this advisory (Paragraphs 5 to 15) and take reference from TAMEM, where applicable. On the other hand, employees, regardless of nationality, should take due recognition of the employer’s challenges during this crisis and be reasonable when discussing salary and leave arrangements with their employers, especially for those who are unable to resume business during Phase One.
- For further queries, please contact:
Ministry of Manpower
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (for queries related to JSS)
Hotline 1800 352 4728
Ministry of Trade and Industry / Enterprise Singapore (for queries related to list of permitted services)
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Infoline 6898 1800
- Employers can check if they are able to resume operations at https://covid.gobusiness.gov.sg/permittedlist.
- Please refer to IRAS’s website on the “Enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme” for more details.
- Includes employers of temporary staff and employment agencies who are employers of contract or temporary staff that are deployed to provide services to the service buyer.
- Employers should log on to Enterprise Portal for Jobs and Skills for a list of courses approved for Absentee Payroll Funding.