Lao niang explain: The 13th Month Bonus – You got or not?

Song boh?! Lai liao lai liao, it’s the time of year again where many people will receive a big fat 13th month bonus. Lao niang want to buy iPhone 12 Pro MAX!!!

If you are not one of the MANY people who will be getting their 13th month bonus hor, then sucks to be you loh.

But before you go cry father cry mother, ask the heavens ask earth why other people have this 13th month bonus but you don’t have… Say real one, other than it is MONEY, what else do you really know about this 13th month bonus leh?

The 13th Month Bonus

Commonly referred to as the Annual Wage Supplement (AWS), this 13th month bonus is a payment which is added to an employee’s total annual salary BUT IS NOT COMPULSORY BY THE LAW!

That means hor, if you go and flip flip flip your employment contract and realise that is it not written as part of your employment contract hor then GG hong kan, it means your employer is not obligated to pay you a 13th month bonus. You bring the case go KPKB at Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM) also no use.

UNLESS your company is unionised. Then you really sibei heng. Because for unionised companies, they got this legally binding document called the Collective Agreement (CA) that list out one by one, all of the conditions of employment for employees.

And most of the time, this CA will bao and include for you the 13th month bonus one. Because that is what the unions and union leaders do for you mah. Help you cham siong for better workplace protection, better terms, and better benefits with your tow kay.

In case you sua-ku and don’t know even know what and how the unions will help you with, here are some of the things which the unions will usually help you to fight for when they cham siong with the tow kays and the company:

  • wages and allowances
  • annual wage supplements (AWS)
  • variable payments

Still got a lot more lah. You ownself go and research. Tell you before liao, got union got po-pi.

But then again, got 13th month or not also like that. The most important thing is to look at your annual payment package – more important to have a high annual salary package mah, tio bo? If you’re earning a decent pay liao, mai stress over the 13th month bonus and focus on your annual salary package.

In this COVID-19 era, got stable job must um-chio already loh.

Then why cannot ask Gahmen to make 13th month bonus compulsory?

Imagine if you are a tow kay running your own company and the Gahmen ask you to make it compulsory to pay your workers 13th month bonus – don’t care your business making money or bleeding – you confirm buay song and buay gam wan one right?

So yah loh and instead of making it compulsory, we think we should encourage the companies to do the right thing. To either provide AWS or offer their workers a higher base monthly salary to begin with. Leave it to the companies to choose the option lah.

At the end of the day, companies who do right by their workers will get the talent and huat huat huat until 不清不楚 (blur blur), huat until they cannot even recognise their lao bu. While companies who try to short-change their workers will not get the talent and tio karma and toh. Willing buyers willing sellers. Tio bo?

BUT HOR, let’s say the market fails lah, then there might be a stronger case for the Gahmen to step in and legislate for compulsory AWS. Until then, this current arrangement is really not bad liao lah.

If Gahmen simi sai also want to chup jit kah, tow kays and companies no freedom then they do what business sia? Everything let Gahmen do, everything let Gahmen decide can liao right? Then still got who want to be tow kay and run own business leh? Confirm not me.

So hor, best is to let the market ownself decide how and when to act lah.


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