SINGAPORE - About 2,000 lower-wage civil servants will receive an early Christmas present in their December salary slip: a guaranteed year-end bonus of at least $1,000.
This works out to more than the 0.7-month bonus announced yesterday for the Civil Service's 77,000 officers.
This is in addition to the non-pensionable annual allowance - more commonly known as the 13th month payment - of one month's salary.
In a statement yesterday, the Public Service Division (PSD) of the Prime Minister's Office said that the bonus amount was calculated in consultation with the unions.
The move to help those at the lower end of the salary scale also signalled the government's "continued commitment" to do more for this group, said PSD.
The 2,000 officers eligible for the guaranteed $1,000 bonus are those currently earning less than $1,430 a month, PSD explained.
For example, an officer drawing a monthly salary of $1,200 will get a year-end bonus of $1,000, instead of $840 based on 0.7-month of his salary.
About 96 per cent of the 2,000 officers are in the Division 4 rank of the Civil Service.
These are typically clerical or operations support staff.
This is the second time this year that the government has targeted those in the lower ranks when announcing its usual bonuses.
In June, some 9,500 lower-wage civil servants - those in Divisions 3 and 4 - received an $80-90 monthly pay rise inclusive of their usual increments.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said that the labour movement was "happy" with this latest announcement to give low-wage civil servants a minimum year-end bonus of $1,000.
She said that the move showed that the government supported the NTUC's earlier proposal to give a higher dollar quantum to help low-wage workers.
The National Wages Council (NWC), in its wage recommendations released earlier this year, had also suggested a quantum of at least $50 for those earning a basic monthly salary of $1,000 or less.
Ms Cham said: "The payment rewards civil servants for their hard work and contributions, while taking into account Singapore's projected slower economic growth of around 1.5 per cent in 2012, and the higher cost of living."
The year-end bonus of 0.7-month is in addition to the mid-year bonus of 0.3-month that was paid out in July. After factoring in the 13th-month payment, civil servants will get a total bonus of two months.
This is less than the 2.25 months plus a fixed sum of $250 that was given last year.
In 2010, civil servants received 2.5 months plus $300, as well as a special variable payment given to some officers because of the exceptionally strong economic growth that year.
Last week, the Ministry of Trade and Industry said that the Singapore economy was likely to grow by around 1.5 per cent, which would be at the lower end of its earlier 1.5-2.5 per cent forecast.
PSD said in its statement yesterday that economic growth would probably "remain subdued" for the rest of 2012.
"The electronics manufacturing cluster will continue to be weighed down by tepid external demand.
On the other hand, expansion in the construction sector could provide modest growth support to the overall economy."
Growth could also be "slightly lower" than forecast if the weakness in externally oriented sectors persisted.