CIVIL servants will get a year-end bonus of 0.8 month this year amid a slowing economy, with lower- wage officers receiving a minimum payout of $1,200.

These are down from the figures last year, when civil servants received a year-end bonus of 1.1 months and lower-wage officers got at least $1,600.

The smaller bonus coincides with the Government giving its forecast yesterday that the economy will expand about 3 per cent this year, compared with 3.9 per cent last year.

Along with their mid-year bonus of 0.5 month and the traditional 13th-month bonus paid in December, civil servants will receive a total bonus this year of 2.3 months - lower than last year's total of 2.5 months.

Still, the year-end payout is "fair", the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said yesterday in welcoming the announcement from the Public Service Division (PSD).

NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said in a statement that it is particularly pleased by the "continued focus" on low-wage employees.

"This signals the PSD's commitment to helping our lower- wage officers," she said.

Some 980 lower-wage civil servants will benefit from the $1,200 minimum payment, said the PSD in its statement.

It noted that a worker who earns $1,200 a month will get $240 more than the 0.8-month bonus of $960 he would have received based on his salary.

The payouts were decided in consultation with the public-sector unions, the PSD said.

Mr Ma Wei Cheng, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees, said the union is happy with the outcome of the negotiations.

Mr G. Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, said the union "understands that because of Singapore's slower economic growth, this year's annual variable component is slightly lower than last year's".

But he added that even with slower growth, "the Government has still given us a good year-end package and we are, therefore, very grateful and thankful".

He said: "All of our members will be very happy with this payout."

The PSD noted that the bonus is given against the backdrop of a job market that remains tight in the third quarter of this year.

Unemployment remained low and steady, while employment growth matched that in the previous quarter, it said.

As the civil service is the country's biggest employer with 82,000 workers, its year-end bonus is watched closely by the private sector, which uses the figure as a guide for its bonus payments.

DBS Bank economist Irvin Seah expects companies to also pay a smaller bonus this year. "The economy has essentially slowed down, and the impact of this slower growth is felt across different industries."