Supporting workers and businesses during Heightened Alert

Photo by Utpal Sarkar

The Government has enhanced its support measures for businesses and individuals during the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) [P2(HA)] period, having taken into consideration feedback from businesses, union leaders and workers.

The package of support measures will comprise enhancements to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) for affected sectors, rental relief for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and non-profit organisations (NPOs) in commercial properties, the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (Temporary) (CRG-T), and other measures.

The Government implemented tighter restrictions on higher-risk activities under P2(HA) from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021 to curb the spread of COVID-19 community cases.

To extend help quickly to those most immediately affected, on 14 May 2021, the Government announced that it would increase support for food and beverage (F&B) businesses under the JSS from 10% to 50%, and provide one-month rental relief for hawker stalls and coffee shops on Government-owned premises for the P2(HA) period.

The Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth also extended support to the arts group under its Arts and Culture Resilience Package and enhanced the Sports Resilience Package (SRP) to provide operating grants to the affected gyms and fitness studios.

Supporting Workers and Businesses

Enhancements to JSS for Affected Sectors from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021

The JSS provides wage support to employers for the first $4,600 of gross monthly wages paid to local employees. Taking into account feedback from businesses and the public, the government has enhanced the JSS to provide support to sectors that have been significantly affected by the tightened measures.

For sectors where the tightened measures require them to suspend many, if not all of their operations, the government has enhanced JSS support to 50% for the period from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021.

This will provide support to affected gyms, fitness studios, performing arts organisations, and arts education centres. The JSS support will also replace the operating grant for gyms and fitness studios under the SRP.

For sectors that are not required to suspend operations but are significantly affected by the tightened measures in P2(HA), the government has enhanced JSS support to 30% from 16 May 2021 to 13 June 2021. This will provide support to the businesses in the retail sector, affected personal care services, museums, art galleries, historical sites, cinemas, indoor playgrounds and other family entertainment centres.

Some retailers like supermarkets, convenience stores and online retailers will not be eligible for the enhanced support.

The enhanced payout, based on wages paid in April 2021 to June 2021, will be disbursed in September 2021. As JSS payouts are intended to offset and protect local employees’ wages, employers who put local employees on mandatory no-pay leave (NPL) or retrench them will not be eligible for JSS payouts for those employees.

Rental support for qualifying tenants of commercial properties

To support businesses with rental costs, the Government will provide rental relief to SMEs, and eligible NPOs with an annual revenue not exceeding $100 million, who are tenant-occupiers of qualifying commercial properties.

For Government-owned commercial properties, the Government will grant one month of rental relief for qualifying tenants. This is aligned to the rental waiver for hawker stalls and coffee shops provided during this P2(HA) period. Tenants will be required to pass down the rental relief received to qualifying sub-tenants, if any.

For privately-owned commercial properties, some landlords have given rental waivers or rebates to support their tenants during this P2(HA) period. To provide additional support, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) will disburse a 0.5-month rental relief cash payout directly to qualifying tenants as part of a new Rental Support Scheme.

The payout will be disbursed starting from mid-August 2021 and computed based on the latest contractual gross rent within the period 14 May 2021 to 29 May 2021.

Separately, property owners who run an SME business or NPO on their own property will also be eligible for the cash payout, computed based on the Annual Value of the property (or part of) for Year 2021 as at 14 May 2021.

Most qualifying tenants and owner-occupiers will receive the cash payout automatically without needing to submit an application. The cash payout will not be disbursed automatically to tenants who only rent part of a property, or to tenants who rent a mixed-use property (e.g. a shophouse for both retail and residential use), and/or to licensees.

Such businesses should submit an application to IRAS, and provide supporting documents. IRAS will provide more details of the Rental Support Scheme and application process on its website by mid-June 2021.