Lower bonus for civil servants amid weak economic outlook

Most will get 0.1 month bonus, $250 to $1.5k lump sum in Dec as Govt exercises restraint

The Public Service Division said that restraint would be exercised for the year-end bonus payment for civil servants this year. PHOTO: ST FILE

Most of Singapore's 85,000 civil servants will get a year-end bonus that is the lowest in 10 years, amid the weak performance of the Singapore economy and its uncertain outlook.

They will receive 0.1 month plus an additional one-off lump-sum payment of $250 to $1,500.

Civil servants in the lower pay grades, however, will get higher lump-sum payouts - an ongoing government practice to support junior grade officers. The move will see about 2,200 officers in Grades III to V of the Operations Support Scheme getting the top lump sum of $1,500.

Senior civil servants in superscale grades, numbering around 1,700, will be given a one-off payment of $400, without the 0.1 month annual variable component (AVC).

The lower bonus was announced by the Public Service Division (PSD) yesterday.

It said: "Taking into account the prevailing economic uncertainties, the PSD, in consultation with and with the support of the public sector unions, will exercise restraint for the year-end bonus payment."

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.

This year's December payout is a sharp drop from those of the last two years, when civil servants received an AVC of one month and lower-wage officers were given at least $1,800.

Also lower was this year's mid-year AVC, which was paid in July. It was 0.45 month plus a one-off lump sum of $200, with lower-grade workers getting $300. Last year, the corresponding figures were 0.5 month, $300 and $500.

All civil servants will also get the one-month non-pensionable annual allowance, commonly referred to as the 13th month bonus. It will be paid this month with the year-end AVC and lump-sum payments. When combined, their total bonus this year is 1.55 months plus the one-off lump-sum payments, compared with 2.5 months plus lump-sum payments in the last two years.

The current 1.55-month bonus is the lowest since the 2009 global financial crisis when Singapore suffered negative growth.

Civil servants then received, apart from their 13th month bonus, a one-off year-end payment of 0.25 month, capped at $750.

Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said in a note to civil servants yesterday: "Our economic outlook remains uncertain and challenging with downside risks."

Mr Chan, who is also the Trade and Industry Minister, added: "I am confident that with the right values and continued hard work, we will ride out the choppy waters together." His ministry has forecast that the economy will grow by 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent this year.

While the resident unemployment rate remains low, the unemployment rate for non-PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) rose slightly, from 4 per cent a year ago to 4.7 per cent in June this year.

NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said that in view of the uncertain outlook, the public sector unions, comprising the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers and the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE), agreed on a "calibrated approach" to give more to lower-grade officers.

Remote video URL

AUPE general secretary Sanjeev Tiwari noted that with the lump sum, Operations Support Scheme officers can expect to receive a full-year AVC of more than one month.

Maybank Kim Eng senior economist Chua Hak Bin told The Straits Times that the lower bonus reflects the "uncertain and sombre" economic reality.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2019, with the headline Lower bonus for civil servants amid weak economic outlook. Subscribe