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COVID-19: Government Initiatives For Businesses
(**UPDATED 22nd April 2020)
We are thankful for all the Government initiatives at helping out businesses during the Covid-19 situation, especially during this “Circuit Breaker” period.
But are you getting confused at what is available out there, when will the payouts be and whether your company is eligible or not? Here are some of the important schemes and benefits firms should know about:
JSS was launched in Budget 2020 and further enhanced in the Resilience and Solidarity Budgets to provide wage support for employers to help them retain their local employees (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) by relieving their cash flow.
The Government will co-fund the first S$4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to each employee for 9 months, with the level of support varying for different sectors - 75% (Tier 1) for Aviation, Accommodation and Tourism sectors, 50% (Tier 2) for Food & Beverage sector, and 25% (Tier 3) for all other sectors. (**UPDATED: JSS now includes shareholders-directors with Assessable Income of S$100,000 or less for Year of Assessment 2019. They will be qualified for May 2020 and subsequent JSS payouts. The May 2020 payout will also include back-payment for these qualifying shareholders-directors whose wages were excluded from the first JSS payout in April.)
Only for the month of April 2020 (**UPDATED: for the months of April and May 2020), all firms will receive a wage subsidy of 75% of gross monthly wages on the first S$4,600 of wages paid during the “Circuit Breaker” period for each local employee.
Most firms should have already received the first payout yesterday, 15th April 2020, as long as employers had earlier signed up for PayNow Corporate or have existing Giro arrangements with Iras. Those without either scheme will start receiving their cheques next Thursday onwards.
Payouts will be in four tranches - April, May, July and October 2020. To find out how the payouts are computed, please refer to COVID-19: Payouts for Jobs Support Scheme (JSS).
All employers will qualify for the payout as long as CPF contributions for local employees are made.
To find out your eligibility on which tier of co-funding, please enquire via JSS Additional Tier eligibility or call 1800-352-4728 (8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday).
WLG promotes work-life balance in companies by offering an incentive of $2,000 for every local worker on Flexi-Work Arrangements (FWAs), up to 35 workers per company. This funding support helps in implementing and sustaining FWAs for all employees.
Given the Covid-19 situation now, most companies have put their employees on FWA, and as all of us have endearingly called it “Working From Home”. Instead of the usual six months to qualify, companies only need to have their workers on FWAs for one month. However, do note that WLG is only applicable for permanent employees or those with a minimum employment contract term of 12 months. Ad hoc or temporary workers will not be eligible.
Companies can start applying for the Work-Life Grant from 20th April 2020, and the lower requirements will apply after the “Circuit Breaker” period ends on 4th May 2020.
Application is free. If you are interested, you must apply directly to SNEF, NTUC’s e2i or SMF. Third party applications through consultants or vendors will not be accepted. MOM, WSG, SNEF, NTUC’s e2i or SMF do not endorse any consultants or vendors and their services and products.
3. Wage Credit Scheme (WCS)
WCS aims to support businesses embarking on transformation efforts and to encourage sharing of productivity gains with Singapore Citizen employees. Based on Budget 2020 enhancements, the Government co-funds 20% and 15% of wage increases in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and on gross monthly wage of up to S$5,000.
Employers qualify for WCS if they have been giving wage increases in 2013 – 2020 to Singapore Citizen employees who received CPF contributions from a single employer for at least 3 calendar months in the preceding year, have been on the employer's payroll for at least 3 calendar months in the qualifying year, and have at least $50 gross monthly wage increase. The employees must not also be the business owner of the same entity, i.e, Sole-proprietor, Partners, Shareholders or Directors.
Application is not required. WCS payouts to eligible employers have already been notified and paid out by 31st March 2020. Qualifying employers who benefit from the Budget 2020 enhancements for the 2019 wage increases will be notified by end June 2020, and will receive the supplementary payout thereafter.
From March 2020, WCS payouts will only be disbursed electronically through direct crediting modes, as long as you have registered for PayNow Corporate or have registered for GIRO to pay Income Tax/GST. Please sign up for either of these modes to be able to receive the payout.
4. Foreign Worker Levy (FWL)
To further alleviate the burden of cash flow and labour costs for businesses, firms that are heavily dependent on foreign workers will definitely need this. Besides expecting FWL waiver for Work Permit and S Pass Holders due for the month of April (**UPDATED: for the months of April and May 2020), there will be a S$750 FWL rebate per worker per month too. Firms can expect the rebates from 21st April 2020.
In addition, with immediate effect from 24th March 2020, firms will also get a three-month extension for paying the FWL. There will also be an up to 90-day waiver on FWL for foreign workers on overseas leave.
Lastly, there will be a refund on the “man year entitlement” for foreign workers in construction firms. This means that the lower levy paid for a foreign worker is not forfeited if the worker leaves or is unable to work. The unused lower levy benefit can be used for another worker instead.
Firms can start to apply to the Building and Construction Authority for the refund scheme from 1st April 2020 onwards for a period of six months.
5. Enterprise Financing Scheme
Government has enhanced financing support for businesses by increasing risk share to 90% for Enterprise Financing Scheme (EFS)-Trade Loan, EFS-SME Working Capital Loan, and Temporary Bridging Loan Programme for loans initiated from 8th April 2020 to 31st March 2021.
Interest rates for these government-assisted loans have also been reduced by half to as low as 3 per cent Effective Interest Rate for some businesses. Firms can now have the option to defer principal repayment, which means they only service the interest payment for the first 12 months, and thereafter continue to service the principal and interest payments for the remaining loan tenor.
Banks have been flooded with loan applications, and turnaround time is taking much longer than usual. The process of a loan application can be very cumbersome and some banks may ask for more documents than others. If you need assistance in your loan application, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not sure whether your company can be qualified for bank loans or alternative lending? Try our A.I assisted loan, and Smart Towkay team will send you a lending report within 24 hours' time. With the lending report, we aggregate and recommend the highest chance of approval be it with BANKS / FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS or Alternative lenders like Peer to Peer Lenders or even B2B lender!
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