0.65-month year-end bonus for public servants

Bonus is smaller than last year's due to slowing economy; 1,300 to get at least $1,100

Civil servants will receive a year-end bonus of 0.65 month this year amid slowing economic growth, the Public Service Division (PSD) said yesterday.

And about 1,300 of them who are paid lower wages will benefit from a minimum payout of $1,100.

These figures are down from last year, when civil servants received a 0.8 month bonus at the year-end and when the lowest payout was set at $1,200.

By comparison, the year-end bonus in 2013 was 1.1 months or $1,600, whichever was higher.

The civil service is Singapore's biggest employer with 82,000 employees. Statutory boards, which are separate entities, are not covered by yesterday's PSD announcement.

But like many private-sector firms, they tend to use the civil service as a reference when deciding on pay and bonuses.

Together with a mid-year bonus of 0.5 month, which they have already received, and the traditional 13th-month bonus to be paid out next month, civil servants will get a total payout this year of 2.15 months.

The announcement coincided with a government forecast yesterday that Singapore's economy will grow by close to 2 per cent for the whole of this year.

This is down from the 2.9 per cent growth recorded last year.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said the NTUC and its affiliated public-sector unions support the PSD announcement.

"Amidst the backdrop of a lacklustre global economy... the total payout package shows the Government's appreciation to the public service officers for their dedication and contribution," she said.

Together with a mid-year bonus of 0.5 month, which they have already received, and the traditional 13th-month bonus to be paid out next month, civil servants will get a total payout this year of 2.15 months. On top of that, they each received a $500 one-off payment in July to mark Singapore's 50th birthday this year.

The unions also cheered the minimum payout of $1,100, saying it signals the PSD's commitment to help lower-wage workers.

For example, those who earn $1,500 a month will get $125 more than the $975 they would have received if their bonus was pegged to 0.65 month of their salary.

"It will come in handy for our lower-wage workers during this festive season, and (help them) cope with the higher cost of living," Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers general secretary G. Muthukumarasamy said.

School operations support officer Kamal Yem, 53, who earns $1,545 a month, was overjoyed.

"This is very useful for my family, my household, and for my son who is studying," he told The Straits Times, adding that he will celebrate with a "small family gathering" to mark the year end.

With modest economic growth expected going forward, Ms Cham said: "The labour movement and affiliated unions will... work closely with our partners to ensure that workers are well taken care of."

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

CIMB Private Bank economist Song Seng Wun said employees in industries which have seen stronger growth, such as services, might still get higher bonuses. "For the broader economy, it really is going to be company- or sector-specific. The bonuses may be more subdued but employees are still getting something for the year-end cheer. "

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2015, with the headline '0.65-month year-end bonus for public servants'. Print Edition | Subscribe