While everyone prioritises staying healthy and safe, the global economy is taking its own hit from the COVID-19 Coronavirus. As such, many professionals and businesses are struggling. In Singapore, the government has reacted to the unprecedented shock, announcement a series of interim measures designed to support both professionals and firms during this increasingly challenging time.

Just the right time

A lot has happened in the development of COVID-19 since Singapore announced its yearly budget in mid-February. The supplementary budget (summarised below) recognises this, and comes at a time when the Lion City has seen a second spike in COVID-19 cases, sparking to the decision to increase social distancing measures and impose travel restrictions. 

Nilay Khandelwal, Managing Director for Michael Page Singapore said the Friday announcement was well timed. “It will definitely boost the  morale of companies across sectors. It will also aid in their decision making around sustainability of business operations and headcount management.”

Industries take a hit, others see growth

Industries such as aviation, tourism and F&B are undoubtedly taking the biggest hit as this situation evolves. On the other hand e-commerce, FMCG and healthcare are holding strong, especially due to changing demands in the markets. 

“With the COVID-19 situation, we are seeing a growing need to work from home,” notes Khandelwal. “And as a result, there was an increased demand for services based on serving those at home. Additionally, across industries, disciplines such as Finance, Digital and Technology remain strong areas of growth for professionals.” 

Hiring is changing 

The economic impacts of social distancing measures on companies have varied, as have the adverse effects on hiring in Singapore. Khandelwal explained: “We have already seen a contrast between various organisations when it comes to hiring. Some have put all hiring on a freeze and are waiting for headquarters to tell them what to do – while quite a few have just increased levels of business planning and continue on with their revised plans.”

As always, hiring during this time depends on business needs and goals. “I believe it’s important for organisations to identify their baseline expectations at this point and work around headcount management for current staff accordingly,” Khandelwal advised. “Then they should look at opportunity areas and hire relevant people – this could be contract or permanent.” 

Highlights in the budget for businesses and professionals

Here are a few more highlights from Singapore’s Supplementary Budget 2020, and the impact they might have on the workforce and businesses in Singapore. 

For employers: Enhanced Jobs Support Scheme (JSS)

The Singapore government is offering a helping hand to employers by paying 25% on the first S$4,600 of monthly salaries, (up from the previous eight percent on the first S$3,600), and it will extend for nine months, until the end of 2020. This is an increase from 3 months. 

Enhanced Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) 

The government has set aside an additional S$500 million for employees’ wage increases, on top of S$600m disbursed in March 2021. 

For employers: Hardest-hit industries to get support

Industries that have been hardest hit with the economic downturn, namely Aviation, Transport, Tourism, and Arts & Culture, will receive additional support. 

For people: Cash payouts

Lower and middle-income Singaporean who lose their jobs due to COVID-19 will receive a cash grant of S$800 a month for three months, with the goal of supporting them while they find new jobs or attend trainings to upskill. All Singaporeans aged 21 and up will get an enhanced cash payout of up to S$900, along with extra benefits for those with kids and seniors. 

For people: Self-employed to get extra support

For eligible Singaporeans who are self-employed (SEP), these professionals will receive S$1,000 a month for 9 months and have additional funds set aside for training and development to upskill during the downturn. 

For people: Job creation

This is an initiative to create about 10,000 jobs over the next one year to help support those who have lost jobs due to COVID-19. Additionally for first-time jobseekers, with SGUnited Traineeships, the government co-funds wage costs for companies offering traineeships under this scheme. 

As the situation evolves, businesses, professionals and the government in Singapore will continue to strive to address their current challenges, while eagerly looking forward to a shift in the adverse global economic climate.