Singapore Civil Servant Bonus 2018 – How Does It Compare to Your Year End Bonus?

civil servant year end bonus 2018

The end of the year tends to make Singaporeans feel pretty broke, what with the pressure to take part in endless gift exchanges and go on blowout overseas trips. The one saving grace for most workers? 3 words: year end bonus.

While many employers do pay employees a year end bonus, this practise is by no means mandatory in Singapore. So count yourself lucky if your last paycheck of the year is fatter than the rest!

You might also be wondering what (if anything) your peers in other sectors will get. But unless you don’t mind getting banned from every social event henceforth, you can’t very well just baldly ask your family and friends to show you their salary slips.

So what’s a FOMO sufferer to do? Luckily, there’s always one sector that publicly announces their year end bonus: the civil service.


Singapore civil servant year end bonus 2018

In December 2018, most of Singapore’s 85,000 civil servants will get one month’s salary for their year end bonuses (technically named “Annual Variable Component” or AVC).

This is calculated separately from their 13th month pay (called “Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance”), which all civil servants get.

Civil servants’ 13th month is also paid out in December, which means that most civil servants can look forward to a 3-month paycheck this year end: regular monthly salary + 13th month + 1 month year end bonus.

The year end bonus actually has a minimum of $1,800. This means a minority of civil servants – 1,380, to be precise – who are earning less than that each month will get $1,800 instead of the standard 1 month’s bonus.

FYI, all of Singapore’s civil servants also got a mid-year bonus AND a one-off lump sum payment in July.

Civil servants Lower-wage civil servants
Mid year bonus 0.5 month 0.5 month
One-off lump sum bonus $300 $500
Year end bonus 1 month $1,800
TOTAL 2018 BONUSES 1.5 months + $300 0.5 month + $2,300

Adding it all up, the total annual bonuses can be pretty meaty indeed. For example, a civil servant earning $5,000 a month would earn a total of $7,800 in bonuses this year – excluding the 13th month salary.


What about private sector year end bonuses?

Outside of the civil service, data about bonuses is extremely hard to find, perhaps because it’s always in employers’ interests to keep things under wraps.

A Channel News Asia article from 2017 (also 1 month year end bonus for civil servants) interviewed one Kurt Wee, president of the Association of SMEs in Singapore, who estimated SME worker bonuses to range from 0.5 month to 1.5 months.

On the other end of the bonus pay scale, the extremely lucrative private banking sector is expected to award bonuses ranging from 1 month to 3 months (8% to 25% of annual salary), according to a finance trade publication.

Obviously, the kind of bonus you can expect varies not just with your industry and company size, but also the performance of your company… and how willing its leaders are willing to share profits with their staff.

To know if your year end bonus is in the healthy zone, find out how well your sector has grown in 2018 and do the math.

For example, if you’re in a high-growth sector like manufacturing – which is estimated to grow by a whopping 7.6% in 2018 – but you’re getting absolutely nothing this year… It’s probably a sign that you should start sending your CV to competitors.

Of course, employers don’t give out bonuses for completely noble and selfless reasons. A big part of it is making the company is an attractive place to work, so companies from different sectors may use attractive bonuses to “fight” over sought-after talent such as cybersecurity professionals.


What’s the difference between bonus and AWS in Singapore?

While writing this, I realised that all my life, I’d been labouring (lol) under the impression that “year end bonus” and “13th month” or “AWS” were the same thing.

In case you’re blur like me, here’s a quick and dirty guide to what the two are all about.

AWS or 13th month Bonus
What is it? Extra month’s pay on top of employee’s annual pay One-off payments to reward employees, e.g. performance bonus
Is it required by MOM? No No
How much is it? Usually a month’s salary Totally variable, at company’s discretion
When is it set? Usually agreed on as part of the pay package in the employment contract Typically end of the year, but can also be on an ad-hoc basis
Things to note Employer can decide to negotiate and lower the amount if company performance is poor that year Companies usually don’t guarantee bonuses

AWS, Annual Wage Supplement, 13th month, Non-Pensionable Annual Allowance… these are all different names for the same thing. It’s basically an extra month’s pay, often tacked onto your last paycheck of the year (or sometimes split into 12 payments and added to each month’s salary).

Some people speak of AWS as almost an entitlement, but actually, not all companies do this AWS thing. It’s not compulsory by law. Because of this discrepancy, it’s better to look at the annual rather than monthly number when you’re trying to figure out how much you get paid.

If you’re working in a company that practises AWS, your year end paycheck is double the usual amount. But that does NOT mean you got 1 month bonus. It’s something that was already pre-agreed when you signed the employment contract and is not affected by your work performance or your employer’s profit margin.

On the other hand, bonuses can be a totally random amount – not necessarily a month’s salary – and you might get them at a totally random time and for a random reason.

Unlike AWS, bonuses are not usually agreed on before you join the company and prove yourself (which sane employer would do that?). Instead, they’re sort of a gift that the employer gives you to say, “hey, you did well at work this year, here’s a token of gratitude.”

Note that all your AWS and bonuses count towards your annual salary – you did earn all of it, right? So if you’re job-hunting, be sure to tally all that stuff up as you’re negotiating your pay package.

How does the civil servant year end bonus compare to yours? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.


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