No year-end bonus for 85,000 civil servants

But 2,400 staff in lower pay grades will get a one-time lump sum payment of $1,200

Singapore’s civil servants will not receive any year-end bonus in 2020 due to challenging economic conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's 85,000 civil servants will not receive any year-end bonus this year amid the economic fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Public Service Division (PSD) said yesterday.

This means that they will not be receiving any annual variable component (AVC) payment for the entire year as mid-year bonuses were also not paid out earlier this year.

However, the Government will continue to give special consideration to lower-wage civil servants amid difficult times, said the PSD.

Around 2,400 civil servants in lower pay grades will receive a one-time lump sum payment of $1,200.

The Government will also continue to pay the non-pensionable annual allowance - known as the 13th month bonus - of one month's pay to all civil servants.

The PSD said this decision - made in close consultation with the public sector unions - was taken in the light of the negative economic outlook. It cited the projected economic contraction of between 6 per cent and 6.5 per cent for 2020.

According to the Ministry of Manpower's preliminary estimates, the overall, resident and citizen unemployment rates also rose in the third quarter.

Most civil servants will receive less than they did during the 2009 global financial crisis, when Singapore suffered negative growth.

Civil servants received no AVC that year but only a one-off payment of 0.25 month - capped at $750 - and the 13th month bonus.

Last year, all civil servants below superscale grade received a year-end bonus of 0.1 month and an additional one-off lump sum payment of $250 to $1,500, amid the weak performance of the Singapore economy and its uncertain outlook.

Senior civil servants in superscale grades received a one-off payment of $400 instead of the year-end AVC.

This year, the PSD announced in June that public officers in superscale grades will have a one-time 0.5-month or one-month pay cut in accordance with their seniority. This was on top of the 0.5-month cut for officers in key leadership positions announced in February.

Ms Cham Hui Fong, deputy secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, said NTUC supports the PSD's decision to not give a year-end bonus, in view of the weak economic performance this year.

"We appreciate that the Government has taken the cue from the National Wages Council to extend financial support for our lower-wage workers in the public service," she said.

She also called on private sector companies to pay special attention to their lower-wage workers.

As the civil service is Singapore's biggest employer, its bonus is closely watched by the private sector, while statutory boards and other government agencies take their cue from it.

Mr Sim Gim Guan, executive director of the Singapore National Employers Federation, said private sector employers should take into account their company's performance when deciding on the company bonus, and urged employers to give special consideration to lower-wage workers.

He also encouraged employers who pay the annual wage supplement, or 13th month bonus, to endeavour to continue doing so.

The PSD added that the public sector "stands in solidarity with Singaporeans in this challenging economic environment".

"Our public officers have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and worked tirelessly over many months, in the national fight against Covid-19. The Government deeply appreciates the hard work of all public officers," it said.

"The fight against Covid-19 continues and the public service will continue to work hard, hand in hand with our citizens and stakeholders, to manage the pandemic and its economic ramifications."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2020, with the headline No year-end bonus for 85,000 civil servants. Subscribe