SINGAPORE - All of Singapore's 85,000 civil servants will not receive any mid-year annual variable component (AVC) payment this year, amid the economic gloom caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Public officers in superscale grades will also take a one-time half-month or one-month pay cut in accordance with their seniority, the Public Service Division (PSD) announced on Thursday (June 18).
This comes on top of the earlier half-month pay cut taken by senior public service officers in key leadership positions - they include permanent secretaries, deputy secretaries, and chief executive officers of statutory boards - which was announced in February.
The PSD said the public service stands in solidarity with the rest of the nation during this difficult period, and the decision was taken by the Government in close consultation with the public sector unions, and against the backdrop of a worsening economic outlook.
"The Government appreciates the hard work and sacrifices of public officers in the fight against Covid-19, including those working on the front line and behind the scenes," it said.
"Many have gone beyond their call of duty to take on additional or expanded roles to support our workers, businesses, and fellow Singaporeans in weathering the economic uncertainties and adjusting to the new normal. Government agencies will make different efforts to appreciate and recognise the good work of officers."
Last year's mid-year AVC, which was paid in July, was 0.45 month plus a one-off lump sum of $200, with lower-grade workers getting $300.
Civil servants also got a 0.1-month year-end bonus that was the lowest in 10 years, plus an additional one-off lump-sum payment of between $250 and $1,500.
PSD said that in deciding on the year-end AVC payments later this year, the Government will take into consideration the National Wages Council's (NWC) recommendations to give special consideration for lower-wage workers.
Earlier this year, the NWC had called on employers and employees to do their part, with management taking the lead in helping to reduce costs and save jobs.
Minister-in-charge of the Public Service Chan Chun Sing said in a note to civil servants on Thursday: "In this downturn, many Singaporeans have lost their jobs and many more have seen falling incomes. I am thankful for the hard work and dedication of all our public service officers."
Mr Chan, who is also the Trade and Industry Minister, added: "If the economic situation is better at year end, we can then consider if there can be a year-end AVC payment, especially for lower-wage workers. We will also recognise your significant contributions through performance bonus.
"Let us focus on the important task of restoring our economy."
His ministry has forecast that the economy will shrink by 4 to 7 per cent this year.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said the pause on the mid-year payout was "difficult but necessary".
"In such difficult times, we also recognise the efforts of senior leadership in public service who are taking the lead and a deeper cut in cost reduction," she said.
"While the worst may have yet to come, we must let the safe reopening of our economy, reinvigorating of our businesses, preserving of jobs and training of our workers take precedence."
Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) general secretary Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari said that to emerge faster and stronger from the crisis, collective effort is needed across all sectors.
He said: "Public officers and agencies have stepped up greatly through various roles in helping to contain the spread of Covid-19. However, it is necessary to stand in solidarity with the rest of the nation in coping with this difficult time.
"We will continue to support our officers and assist them as best as possible. Let's keep sight on the recovery and ride through this together."