Bonuses of Singapore civil servants have declined 28% in past 10 years

Bonuses of Singapore civil servants have declined 28% in past 10 years

Last Friday, the Public Service Division (PSD) announced the figures of the year-end bonus of Singapore civil servants, and it was observed that the numbers were lower than that of last year.

This year, civil servants will receive a total of 1.5 months (including the usual 13th-month bonus) worth of bonus. Including the mid-year bonus of 0.45 months, they will get a total of 1.95 months of bonus for 2016. This is 0.2 months lower than 2015's figures.

In 2015, civil servants received a total of 2.15 months of bonus, which is inclusive of its mid-year bonus of 0.5 months.

The deflated rates this year is reflective of the general deflation of Singapore's economy, which has seen a drop of 0.9 per cent of economic growth (1.1 per cent in 2016, 2 per cent in 2015) in this year's quarter as compared to the last's.

However, the PSD has reiterated that for its 1,900 lower-wage workers, the pay-out (not including the 13th-month bonus) will be at least $900.

This move was applauded by workers' unions, with Ms. Cham Hui Fong, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) stating that: "While the total payout package is 'relatively lower than recent years', the labour movement and public sector unions are 'supportive' of the lower quantum, [and it] fairly reflects the Government's financial prudence while taking into account the recommendations by the National Wages Council."

Civil servant bonuses over the past 10 years

We did a quick check on civil servant bonus rates over the past 10 years, and the figures are pretty reflective of the state of Singapore's economy at a particular point of time.

Save for the standard 13th-month bonus, also known as the Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance (NPAA), the year-end bonus figures have been fluctuating according to economy growth (or the lack of it), and has been seeing a downward trend since its second peak in 2013.

While the mid-year bonus tends to stay constant at around 0.5 months each year, 2009 saw a complete lack of it due to the global recession. That year also saw a cap of $750 imposed across the board on the 0.25 months year-end bonus (not including the 13th-month bonus).

However, in 2015, the 0.5 months mid-year bonus was topped up with an additional one-off bonus of $500 in light of Singapore's 50th birthday celebration. In 2007, an additional $220 was also given out on top of the 0.5 months to "help low wage workers, as it forms a bigger proportion of their pay", after the National Wage Council called for companies to help their lower wage workers.

Additional one-off perks were also given out in the mid-years of 2006 ($220), 2007 ($220), 2010 ($300), and 2011 ($250).

Minimum pay-out amounts for year-end bonuses have also been implemented since 2012, with a peak in 2013 at $1,600.

How it affects non-civil servants (most of us)

The significance of the figures are actually more important than many non-civil servants might think - the information PSD provides each year is actually closely observed by companies in the private sector, which use the rates as a gauge for their year-end bonus payouts.

Thus, in line with the hardly awe-inspiring bonus package for civil servants, the rest of us might see a similarly humble package this year.

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