Singapore extends Covid-19 wage support scheme to shareholder-directors

The Singapore government announced on 21 April that it was to extend the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to shareholders and directors of companies.

The JSS, aimed at helping firms retain local workers, was first announced in February’s Budget and was enhanced in the supplementary budgets in March and April. The move, which is estimated to benefit about 50,000 people, came in response to feedback from shareholder-directors, especially those from smaller companies and start-ups.

The JSS pays out 75% of wages for April and May on the first S$4,600 of a worker’s gross monthly pay, and at least 25% for a further seven months, depending on the sector. Firms in the food services industry will receive 50% of wages for those seven months while aviation and tourism sector companies will get 75% of wages for the full nine months.

The enhancement to include shareholder-directors will only apply to companies that were registered on or before 20 April and for wages of shareholder-directors with assessable income of S$100,000 or less in the year of assessment 2019.

This group did receive JSS support for employees’ wages, but their personal wages form a significant portion of their companies’ wage bills and these were not covered. They also do not qualify for the income relief scheme for self-employed people.

Qualifying shareholder-directors will start receiving payouts under the JSS from May, which will also include back-payment for the month of April.

“We are sympathetic to the challenges faced by these shareholder-directors,” Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat told parliament. “By supporting them, we hope that these shareholder-directors will be able to retain their own wages and livelihoods, just like how we would like them to retain their local employees.”

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