In Singapore 13-month bonus is a privilege but not compulsory


It is that time of the year when many workers look forward to be paid an additional salary, the 13-month bonus (or Annual Wage Supplement) and the variable bonus. The Public Service Division (PSD) has already announced that its officers will receive 0.95-month variable bonus (also known as Annual Variable Component) this year.

The PSD said on Friday (Nov 25) that with the traditional 13th-month payout, civil servants will get a total of 1.95 months bonus this year. Such statements may suggest that the 13-month bonus is compulsory in Singapore. But unlike certain countries in ASEAN, the 13-month bonus is not compulsorily paid out in Singapore, but is a privilege. The Ministry of Manpower clarifies:


The 13-month bonus is compulsory in some countries where workers are typically paid on a monthly basis (instead of a weekly one) because workers are typically underpaid on most months except February. Blogger ‘A Singaporean in Australia‘ explains it as such:

“There are four weeks in a month and we get paid for 28 days in a month. that’s it. Straightforward.
In short we are underpaid in every other month other than February.
January – 3 days
March – 3 days
April – 2 days
May – 3 days
June – 2 days
July – 3 days
August – 3 days
September – 2 days
October – 3 days
November – 2 days
December – 3 days
3 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 2 + 3 = 29 days.
The shorter way to calculate this would be:
1 month 4 weeks.
You get paid 12 times a year = 12 x 4 = 48 weeks.
There are 52 weeks in a year. 52 – 48 = 4 weeks unpaid
The fact is that Singapore employers hold 29 days of your pay over the year and could refuse to pay you your rightful money if you did not ‘perform’. Even if they do it, that meant many employees in Singapore did not get any bonuses from their companies at all. The 13th month is your pay. It is Not a bonus!”