The Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on Sunday (10 May) that 32 companies have returned the Government’s Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) payouts and pledged to decline future JSS payouts.
As of 9 May, the MOF has received the companies’ payout for the month of April – worth S$35 million in total – stating that it will be utilised for future disbursements.
Meanwhile, another 29 companies that received last month’s funds have also stated that they will not be accepting future JSS payouts, according to the MOF.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat – who is also the Minister of Finance – said in a Facebook post on Sunday that the 32 companies include multinational corporations (MNCs), financial institutions, and other local enterprises across different sectors.
“I am very encouraged by their sense of responsibility and shared community. I hope their exemplary action will inspire other companies that are doing well to consider doing the same,” Mr Heng remarked.
Other than returning the disbursement from the JSS, he also suggested donating to charitable causes.
The JSS is a wage subsidy programme intended to help companies to retain and pay their workers amid the coronavirus pandemic that has affected many businesses.
Previously on 6 April, Mr Heng announced in Parliament that the wage subsidies will cover 75 per cent of gross monthly wages, for the first S$4,600 of wages paid in April.
Under the scheme, about S$7 billion was allocated for more than 140,000 employers to help cover the wages of over 1.9 million local employees in Singapore.
One of the companies that decided to give up its JSS payout is the German pharmaceutical group Boehringer Ingelheim, in which the company will contribute S$500,000 to five causes voted by its employees, as reported by The Straits Times.
The company’s country managing director and head of human pharma for Southeast Asia and South Korea regional operating unit, Gerrard McKenna, noted, “At this point in time, in contrast to other industries, like aviation and tourism, our company in Singapore has not been financially adversely affected.”
Netizens said companies may still put employees on unpaid leave despite the 75% grant, urged the Govt to check
Looking at the comment section on the news report shared by Channel News Asia (CNA) on Facebook (10 May), many netizens pointed out that most companies took wage subsidies but still put their employees on unpaid leave.
They highlighted that the Government should ensure that employees are being treated fairly under the JSS scheme and not solely relying on the companies after giving the grant.
Facebook user Pauline Poh Popo commented that the financial assistance given to companies may not serve its intended purpose or may not even be necessary. She hopes that the Government will perform some checking before granting such financial assistance to companies.
One netizen pointed out that some companies only pay their workers 65 per cent of the salary as they claimed that the Government’s 75 per cent grant is not inclusive of Central Provident Fund (CPF) and the 25 per cent, adding that it is better for the Government to check on the companies.
Some even commented that they were given less than the 75 per cent salary from their employers.
A few of the netizens commented that the 32 companies must be affiliated to the Government as it is unlikely for a private-owned company to return the payouts amid the ongoing pandemic.
Meanwhile, a handful others asked the Government to reveal the list of the 32 companies so that other companies can refer to them as an example.