Private employers are likely to offer more generous bonuses this year than the civil service, as usually happens, human resource consultants say.

Those working for private firms can expect year-end bonuses of between two and 3.5 months including a 13th month bonus, said Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at The GMP Group.

In comparison, the 80,000 civil servants here will receive an annual variable component (AVC) of 1.1 months. Combined with a mid-year bonus of 0.4 months and a traditional 13th month bonus due in December, their total bonus this year is 2.5 months.

Bonuses in the private sector are usually not benchmarked against the civil service.

Rather, staff are typically rewarded based on the firm's financial performance and the employee's effort, said Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Koh Juan Kiat.

"(Private sector) bonuses cannot be compared to those of civil servants who have different key performance indicators," he said.

Ms Stella Tang, director of Robert Half in Singapore, said private companies "benchmark themselves against their competition, not the public sector".

"If the sector is doing well, companies will most possibly match (public sector bonuses) if not better," she added.

Despite sluggish demand in the first half year and rising business costs, private sector bonuses are expected to be at least on a par with last year's given the tight job market, consultants say.

Sectors such as banking and financial services, information technology, life sciences and engineering should deliver better bonuses "as employers use financial incentives to attract and retain the right talent", said Mr Richard Farmer, director of professionals at Randstad.

Mr Mark Hall, country manager of Kelly Services Singapore, said the civil service's bonus "reflects a healthy economy", and most firms in the private sectors remain positive about bonuses.

However, small and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) squeezed by rising business costs are likely to give bonuses of only one or two months, said Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Chan Chong Beng.

As the labour market is tight, "they will have to give some bonus, if they want to retain staff", he added. But SME bonuses might be smaller than previous years given a lack of business confidence.

Mr Loi Pok Yen, group chief executive of logistics group CWT, said the company will "probably give bonuses of around 2.5 months, or maybe slightly more".

"Even if the economy is not doing well, that doesn't justify paying less to staff if the company has done well," said Mr Loi.

"Our focus is on productivity, which translates into profits. If staff can come up with suggestions on how to improve things, they deserve the bonus."