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DESPITE a poorer economic outlook, civil servants will still get a mid-year variable bonus in July - but it will be smaller than the one they received last year. Similarly, lower-wage workers in the Civil Service will be given a smaller built-in wage increment, said the Public Service Division (PSD).
A 0.45-month mid-year annual variable component (AVC) payment will be given to all 84,000 civil servants.
Grades IV and V officers in the Operations Support Scheme will get a built-in wage hike of S$20 and S$25 respectively. This increase comes on top of their S$30 annual increment for 2016, PSD said in a statement on Tuesday.
The monthly salary scale for Grade IV ranges from S$1,446 to S$1,843; for Grade V, the range is S$1,205 to S$1,536.
The built-in amount for lower-wage officers, which will benefit around 1,500 of them, is lower than the built-in hike given in July last year. The National Wages Council this year recommended a built-in wage hike of S$50 to S$65 for all workers earning up to S$1,100 a month in basic salary.
Last year's built-in wage increase for low-wage civil servants was S$30 when the NWC recommendation was S$60. The mid-year AVC payment last year was 0.5-month; in addition, there was also a one-off bonus of S$500 given to mark Singapore's 50th birthday.
PSD said that the decision on the latest mid-year payouts was made against the backdrop of an economy growing by 1.8 per cent in the first quarter and likely to grow 1-3 per cent for the full year, amid a weaker global economic outlook.
PSD also said that labour demand is tipped to be uneven across sectors. It added that while the jobless rate has stayed low, employment growth has slowed and layoffs are expected in some sectors as the economy restructures.
PSD said that the built-in increments for Grade IV and V officers signals the government's continued commitment to raise the salaries of low-wage civil servants, which is in line with the NWC guidelines.
The mid-year payments were decided in close consultation with the public-sector unions, said PSD. It also said that the government would decide on the year-end AVC payment for civil servants after taking into consideration the economy's performance in the second half of the year.
At the end of last year, civil servants were given a 0.65-month variable bonus plus the annual 13th month bonus, making for a 1.65-month payout in all. Lower-wage officers received an AVC payment of at least S$1,100. The 0.65-month AVC payment was down from 0.8-month given at end-2014, when lower-wage officers got at least S$1,200.
Reacting to PSD's announcement on Tuesday, NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said: "Considering the slowdown in our economic growth, the payment fairly rewards civil servants for their dedication and contributions."
She said that the labour movement was also "heartened" that the government backed the NWC recommendations to "sustainably" uplift the incomes of lower-wage workers.
G Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily-Rated Workers, said his union understood that because of Singapore's slower economic growth, this year's AVC would be lower than past years'.