SINGAPORE: Civil servants in Singapore will receive a 0.3-month mid-year bonus amid "significant downside risks" during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the Public Service Division (PSD) on Friday (Jun 18).
Civil servants in junior grades will also receive an additional one-time payment.
Officers in grades equivalent to MX13(I) and MX14 will receive a one-time payment of S$350. Those in grades equivalent to MX15 and MX16, and the Operations Support Scheme grades III to V, will receive a higher one-time payment of S$700.
"The Singapore economy is expected to recover this year in tandem with the global economy and progress in our domestic vaccination programme," said PSD.
"However, significant downside risks remain, including uncertainty over the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic."
PSD added: "Following the unprecedented economic crisis in 2020, Singapore's economy and labour market have seen positive developments in the first quarter of 2021."
Singapore's economy expanded by 1.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter of 2021. This was a reversal from the 2.4 per cent contraction in the previous quarter.
READ: Singapore maintains 2021 GDP forecast at 4% to 6% due to 'heightened uncertainties' from COVID-19
Total employment, overall unemployment and total retrenchments also saw consecutive positive improvements quarter-on-quarter.
The external economic environment has also improved since February. But countries are experiencing recurring waves of infections with the emergence of more transmissible strains of the virus, PSD said.
"Domestically, despite COVID-19 generally being under control and the progress that we are making in vaccinating our population, there remain significant risks and uncertainties in our own COVID-19 situation."
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has maintained a gross domestic product growth forecast of 4 to 6 per cent for the year.
"The pace of recovery is also expected to be uneven across various sectors of the economy," it said.
READ: Singapore economy may grow more than 6% this year, but recovery will be ‘disparate’ across sectors: MAS
The mid-year bonus was decided in consultation with public sector unions and recognises "the tireless efforts of civil servants while bearing in mind the overall economic situation", said PSD.
Civil servants did not receive a mid-year bonus last year. Public officers in "superscale grades" also took a one-time pay cut of half or one month depending on their seniority.
No year-end bonus was paid out either, although civil servants received the non-pensionable annual allowance, also known as the 13th-month bonus.
This year's mid-year bonus and one-time payment is a "welcome reward" for civil servants, said National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) deputy secretary-general Cham Hui Fong.
"We are heartened that the Government took into consideration the National Wages Council's recommendation by providing a one-off lump sum for our lower-wage workers," said Ms Cham.
"We hope the Government will consider built-in wage increases that are more sustainable and can uplift their incomes in the longer term."
The Amalgamated Union of Public Employees also welcomed the decision, including the additional financial support for lower-income officers.
"Despite the tough economic conditions and uncertainties in the COVID-19 situation, we have managed to conclude a moderated package that recognises the hard work and contributions of our public officers," said general secretary Sanjeev Kumar Tiwari.
PSD said the Government will continue to monitor the economic situation closely, and take into consideration National Wages Council guidelines that will be released later in the year to decide on the year-end bonus.
"We deeply appreciate the hard work and perseverance of all public officers in the fight against COVID-19. The Public Service continues to stand in solidarity with Singaporeans and we will emerge as a stronger Singapore," said PSD.
The Public Service is one of Singapore's largest employers with about 86,000 civil servants, according to the Careers@Gov government job portal.