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Absentee payroll funding guide for employers in Singapore

In Singapore's fast-paced business environment, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face the ongoing challenge of developing a skilled and adaptable workforce while navigating financial constraints. 

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into absentee payroll funding in Singapore, exploring its significance, mechanics, and profound implications for reducing the burden and accelerating growth for SMEs. 

What is absentee payroll funding in Singapore?

Absentee Payroll (AP) funding is a grant in Singapore that helps cover some of the manpower costs associated with enterprises sending their employees for certifiable skills training. 

AP is funded based on the actual number of hours attended by the trainee. AP funding is not applicable to on-the-job training (OJT) hours. 

What are the eligibility criteria for absentee payroll funding?

In order to be eligible for AP funding, the applicant company must meet the following criteria: 

  • Companies must be registered or incorporated in Singapore. 
  • Trainees must be fully sponsored by their employer for supportable cost components (such as course fees) incurred on the training course. 
  • Trainees must:
    • be full-time or permanent part-time employees of the sponsoring company; 
    • continue to receive their salary when they attend training; 
    • have sat for and passed the examinations or assessments where applicable; and 
    • complete the course while under the employment of the sponsoring company. 
  • Trainees must be paid overtime pay in accordance with the employer’s Human Resources (HR) policy (for training outside working hours). 
  • Non-business entities not registered with ACRA, such as VWOs and societies, as well as sole proprietorships, are also eligible if they meet all the above criteria.

Note: With effect from 1 April 2009, government entities are not eligible for AP funding. This includes private entities held under a government agency whose expenditure on manpower is partially government-funded.

How much is the absentee payroll amount in Singapore?

Course Start DateNormal Funding RatesFunding Rates for SMEs (with effect from 1 July 2012)Funding Rates under the Workfare Skills Support (WSS) Scheme (with effect from 1 July 2023)
Before 1 January 202280% of hourly basic salary (capped at $4.50 per trainee-hour)80% of hourly basic salary (capped at $7.50 per trainee-hour)95% of hourly basic salary, capped at $13 per hour. (Only applicable for Singapore citizens aged 30 years and above, with salary up to $2,500)
On or after 1 January 2022$4.50 per hour, capped at $100,000 per enterprise per calendar year

What disbursements are included in the yearly cap? 

The AP funding will be capped at S$100,000 per enterprise per calendar year for all courses beginning on January 1, 2022, excluding those covered by the Workfare Skills Support Scheme. 

The cap applies annually based on the disbursement date (i.e., eligible disbursements made in 2023 will be subject to the cap for 2023 regardless of the course run start date). 

In-flight AP transactions that are currently being processed or awaiting further verification by SSG will also be considered when determining whether the annual cap has been exceeded. 

Can the same employee be eligible for AP funding for different courses?

Yes, as long as the employee received a salary from the employer while attending training and the courses did not overlap.

Can an employee enjoy AP funding if he/she has previously received AP funding for the same course? 

Employees cannot receive AP funding for the same course from the same Training Partner, even if they switch employers. This is against the double-funding policy. If the course is a refresher course, then the employee is eligible for AP. 

Does absentee payroll funding extend to training conducted outside of working hours?

For training conducted outside working hours, AP funding is given to the employers to defray the overtime pay that was paid to their employees. 

To be eligible for AP funding, employers must have an HR policy in place that allows for overtime pay for employees during these training hours, and they must pay their employees overtime pay in accordance with the HR policy. 

How frequently is absentee payroll funding granted and disbursed?

Absentee payroll will be granted and disbursed for only a single period of time, regardless of the number of courses a trainee would have attended concurrently during the same period. 

In the event that an employer-sponsored trainee attends multiple concurrent courses during the same period, the AP funding disbursed to the employers may be adjusted accordingly to ensure that only one form of wage compensation (which includes absentee payroll, training allowance, and salary support) is disbursed for a single period of time.

Why is absentee payroll funding helpful to SMEs?

Absentee payroll funding plays a vital role in supporting SMEs in their efforts to develop a skilled and competitive workforce, enhance productivity, and achieve sustainable growth in a dynamic business environment.

1. Financial Support: AP funding assists SMEs by subsidising the manpower costs associated with sending employees to training. This subsidy reduces the financial burden on SMEs, particularly those with limited resources, making it easier for them to invest in employee training and development.

2. Encourages Training Investment: Because absentee payroll funding covers the cost of employee training, it encourages SMEs to invest in improving their workforce's skills and capabilities. This investment in training can improve employee productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness, thereby contributing to the SMEs’ competitiveness and growth.

3. Increased Competitiveness: Employees who receive relevant training are better prepared to handle job responsibilities, adapt to industry changes, and contribute to the overall success of the company. This, in turn, can result in higher customer satisfaction, business performance, and market share.

4. Retaining Talent: By providing opportunities for employee training and development, SMEs can attract and retain top talent. Employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their professional development and offers opportunities for skill improvement. This can help to reduce turnover rates and the costs associated with hiring and training new employees.

5. Compliance with Regulatory Requirements: In some industries or types of training, SMEs may be required to meet regulatory or accreditation standards. Absentee payroll funding can assist SMEs in meeting these requirements by providing financial support for employee training programmes that are consistent with industry standards or regulatory guidelines.

How do I claim absentee payroll funding?

The Enterprise Portal for Jobs and Skills (EPJS) is the one-stop portal for Enterprises to explore information and resources on relevant jobs and skills initiatives under SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG). 

As part of SSG and WSG’s commitment to Enterprises, the AP claim process has been streamlined and moved to EPJS to enhance the Enterprise user experience in declaring information and receiving disbursements.

1. Enrolment: Training Partner (TP) will submit trainee(s) enrolment on behalf of your Enterprise in the Training Partners Gateway.

Note: Please ensure you provide TP with your company’s Unique Entity Number (UEN), who is the direct employer of the trainee(s) and also provides salary, statutory benefits, etc. The UEN will be utilised for verification purposes as part of the funding disbursement process. 

2. AP Declaration: Enterprises will be notified via email when trainee(s) have been successfully enrolled by Training Partner(s) and will receive a separate email to proceed with Absentee Payroll Declaration. 

3. AP Disbursement: Enterprise receives AP disbursement(s) via PayNow.

What is the step-by-step guide on how to claim absentee payroll funding? 

1. Set up Corppass

  • Login to Corppass website.
  • Select SSG-WSG E-SERVICES under SKILLSFUTURE SINGAPORE AGENCY. 
  • Assign at least one user to the role EPJS ENTERPRISE USER.
  • Assigned user(s) will be able to submit AP Claim. This role should be assigned to the employee who manages the transactions with SSG and WSG. 

Note: If you are not the Corppass Administrator, you will need to approach your organisation’s Corppass Administrator for assignment of Corppass to access EPJS.

2. Log into Enterprise Portal for Jobs & Skills (EPJS)

Only users with the assigned Corppass credentials will be able to log in and transact within the portal. 

3. PayNow for Enterprises

You must set up PayNow in EPJS to receive the AP funding disbursement! 

  • For first-time login, you will be prompted to enter your PayNow details. 
  • Before submitting the AP Declaration, you will be prompted to enter your PayNow details if you have not already done so. 

If there are changes to your PayNow details, you may update the details via the following steps:

  • Select profile icon at the top right-hand corner. 
  • Update PayNow UEN details and save.

Note: Find out more about PayNow with this useful Payboy guide. Alternatively, contact your local bank to learn how to connect your corporate account with PayNow.

4. Dashboard for Absentee Payroll

  • Upon logging in to EPJS, Enterprises will be directed to the “SFEC Training Claims” tab. 
  • Enterprises need to click on the “AP Funding” tab, which will direct you to your unique dashboard. In the section “Absentee Payroll Declaration,” you will see:

1) the number of items pending for your action, including Pending Declaration, Pending Payment, and Payment Completed; 

2) the utilisation summary (the sum of paid grants, excluding any amounts recovered).

3) the status of your declaration (e.g., Pending or Completed).

4) the status of your AP Disbursement in the Completed section. If it has been disbursed, it will show PAID. 

5. Declaration for Absentee Payroll

First, select Course Title to go to the Absentee Payroll Declaration page:

  • In the Things To Note and Instructions sections, you can find important information on:
    • How long it takes to complete the Declaration
    • Information needed
    • How to calculate fixed monthly salary
  • In the Course Information and Absentee Payroll Information sections, you will be able to:
    • View course information
    • Enter Monthly Salary and Hours Worked per week for eligible employees, where required
  • Cancel to exit and leave the Declaration as pending in the dashboard.
  • Save to save a draft of the Declaration. 

Note: Only one draft of all Declaration may be saved at any time. If you have a draft saved and attempt to save another draft, a message will prompt you to confirm your new draft, which will overwrite the previous.

  • Submit to submit the Declaration.

In the Absentee Payroll Information section, you may select the trainees to be included in the Declaration and subsequently enter the monthly salary and hours worked per week:

  • Trainee details are not editable by default.
  • Select the checkbox for the trainee(s) to include and provide information for Declaration. 
  • Monthly salary and hours worked per week are required if the course attended started before 1 January 2022 or if the trainee is eligible for Absentee Payroll under Workfare Skills Support Scheme. Otherwise, input of these details is optional.

Lastly, to submit your AP Declaration, at least one trainee must be selected.

When do I have to submit the AP Declaration? 

You will be notified via email when your AP Declaration is ready for your action. The AP Declaration is dependent upon:

  1. Training Partner submitting information in Training Partners Gateway, and
  2. Successful completion of eligibility and disbursement checks (i.e., assessment requirements are met, etc.). You will have 150 days from the course end date to submit your AP Declaration for trainees who attended that course.

Can I edit a submitted or approved AP Declaration?

No, once your AP Declaration has been submitted, you will not be able to edit the Declaration. For any amendments, please contact SSG via the service portal

When will I receive Absentee Payroll disbursements after submitting the AP Declaration? 

For AP Declarations submitted in EPJS and for courses with a Course Run Start Date of 1 November 2020 onwards, you will receive AP disbursements within two and a half weeks.

Why use Payboy’s HR software to manage your employee training?

By investing in your employees, you can make sure they know about the latest changes and trends in the industry. This will help your company's bottom line in the long run. 

While Excel or Google Sheets can be used to manage employee training, there are some drawbacks to doing so: 

  1. Time-consuming: Maintaining a spreadsheet manually to track staff training progress can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large workforce. Data entry, record updating, and making sure the data is accurate can all take a lot of time.
  2. Error-prone: Manually entering data into a spreadsheet raises the chance of typos or other data entry problems.
  3. Challenging to produce insightful reports quickly: Putting together insightful reports will require more time and effort on Excel or Google Sheet instead of just a click of a button on HR software.
  4. Limited security: Spreadsheets lack the specialised software's level of protection, making them susceptible to data leaks.

If you're looking for a way to streamline employee training and development, Payboy HR & payroll software may be just what you need. With Payboy’s training management module, you can manage your employees' training progress effortlessly and effectively with these benefits:

  1. Easy accessibility: Payboy is cloud-based HR software, and it is easy to access the training records of your employees from any device with internet connection.
  2. Improved scalability: As your business expands, Payboy can help manage a significant number of employees and training records, making it simpler for larger enterprises to manage the progress of employee training.
  3. Automatic renewal reminders: Missing a certification renewal can be costly and make operations a nightmare. Never miss another renewal again with Payboy’s auto-reminder.
  4. Customised training checklists: With Payboy, you can customise training checklists for each employee depending on their roles and responsibilities and ensure that all employees are equipped with the necessary training to excel in their roles.

Tip: Check out our comprehensive “Employee training guide for SMEs in Singapore” for useful tips on how to make an employee training plan that works well and meets the needs of both your business and your employees. Get ready to discover the potential of your team!

Streamline your HR processes with Payboy today!

As a PSG-approved HRMS, Payboy provides a robust system to help you manage your HR tasks so that you can focus on your business and people!

With our wide range of modules, you can customise a solution to meet the specific needs of your business:

Payroll Processing | Leave Management | Claims Management | Applicant Tracking | Time Attendance | Shift Scheduling | Appraisal System | Inventory Management | Project Costing | Training Management | Benefits

Find out how you can do it all with Payboy

Reach out to us if you are keen for a free demo on how we can help you save hours and give you some peace of mind on payroll and other HR matters so that you can focus on your business and people.
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