Half-month bonus for civil servants

Office workers in the central business district.
Office workers in the central business district. ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Total bonus of 1.95 months for 2016 is smaller than last year's due to slowing economy

Civil servants will get a smaller year-end bonus of half a month as the slow economy continues to slide further.

But 1,900 low-wage workers will be given at least $900, signalling the Government's continued commitment to helping these workers, the Public Service Division said yesterday.

For instance, an officer earning $1,500 a month will get $900, which is $150 more than the bonus based on his monthly salary, it added in its statement.

Along with their mid-year bonus of 0.45 month and the traditional 13th-month bonus paid in December, civil servants will get a total bonus of 1.95 months this year.

This is lower than the bonus of 2.15 months given last year, when civil servants also received a one- time $500 bonus in celebration of Singapore's jubilee year.

The minimum year-end bonus for low-wage workers was higher as well: $1,100.

The decrease is the third in a row. In 2014, civil servants received a total bonus of 2.3 months and, in 2013, 2.5 months.

The smaller payout comes on the heels of the Government revising downwards on Thursday its growth forecast for the whole of this year. The new forecast is 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent, compared with 1 per cent to 2 per cent earlier.

The civil service year-end bonus is watched closely by the private sector, which uses the figure as a guide for its bonus payments.

The National Trades Union Congress welcomed the payout. Assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said it "fairly reflects the Government's financial prudence while taking into account the recommendations of the National Wages Council".

Despite low-wage workers getting $200 less than last year's minimum amount, union leaders such as the general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, Mr G. Muthukumarasamy, said they are heartened that "our low-wage public servants are not forgotten''.

He added: "The bonus... is a timely sum to help our members cope with year-end expenditures such as their children's education and back-to-school spending."

Mr Yeo Chun Fing, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees, said: "We look forward to better rewards when the economy recovers."

School operations support officer Khamis Jamain, 55, said the $900 will go towards his 78-year-old mother's medical bills and loans he had taken from friends.

"We have heard the economy is not doing well, so anything is a bonus," he said.

OCBC Bank economist Selena Ling said most people would have taken into account the gloomy situation.

She warned that tougher times may lie ahead. "Companies may still reward their workers at similar levels to 2015, but they are also bracing themselves for the real challenge that is 2017," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2016, with the headline 'Half-month bonus for civil servants'. Print Edition | Subscribe