We explain what civil servants’ year-end bonus entails and how much has been given out over the past 11 years.
The civil service is known to be an ‘iron rice bowl’ when it comes to providing employment and steady income, but how does it measure up when it comes to bonuses? We discuss how much you can expect to receive in bonuses as a civil servant.
Who are civil servants?
There are around 86,000 civil servants, comprising officers working in the ministries and other parts of the government body, spanning the Administrative Service, civil defence, education, police and other departments.
They are part of the around 153,000 public officers working in 16 ministries and over 50 statutory boards. However, the latter is legally separate from the civil service and have their own policies, though they probably take reference from the civil service.
What is the year-end bonus?
The civil service year-end bonus is dispensed in addition to an employee’s regular salary. The amount paid to employees varies according to role and seniority, but all civil servants receive the same payout percentages across the board.
The civil service bonus usually correlates with GDP growth. In 2021, a 0.3-month mid-year bonus and a 1-month year-end bonus were awarded as Singapore’s economy gradually recovered from the contractions it had previously undergone due to COVID-19.
Breakdown of year-end bonus over past 11 years
Accordingly, the year-end bonus has gone up and down with the years, the lowest being no bonus (in 2020), and the highest being 1.1 months (in 2013). The breakdown by year is captured in the table below.
|Year||Mid-year bonus||Year-end bonus|
As can be seen, the year-end bonus usually ranges around 0.7-month to 1-month for most years.
In addition to the year-end bonus, there is also a 13th-month payment (also known as the Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance) for all civil servants.
Also not reflected in the table above, are the one-off payments that the government issues to those in junior grades together with the year-end bonus, in order to elevate the wages of lower-salaried workers. For example, junior grade officers (grades equivalent to MX15 and MX16, as well as those in Operations Support Scheme Grades III to V) received an additional S$500 at the end of 2021.
In 2020, when there was no year-end bonus due to the poor economic conditions, S$1,200 was paid out to Operations Support Scheme Grades III to V.
Comparison with the private sector
Including the 13th-month payout, the annual bonus for civil servants ranges from around 1.5 to 2.5 months (excluding performance bonuses which are specific to each individual).
This is quite comparable with the private sector’s bonus quantum reflected in the Ministry of Manpower’s Annual Wage Changes data. The only striking difference would perhaps be that the private sector still received, on average, an annual bonus of 1.79-months last year, while the civil service only received the 13th-month bonus.
Nonetheless, the bonus quantum for the private sector would also differ from industry to industry, unlike the civil service where a uniform percentage is applied throughout.
In conclusion, while the civil service is known for providing reliable employment in Singapore, its bonuses are largely dependent on the state of the economy. If the size of the bonus you could be receiving is an important factor to you in choosing a job, your interests might be better served in the private sector.
But if the average range of the civil service bonuses is sufficient for your requirements, and other aspects of its roles meet your needs, the civil service could be a place for you to carve out a long-term future.
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