SINGAPORE: Some 1,500 employees at OCBC Bank will receive the bank’s $3 million Wage Credit Scheme payout.
The firm says it is the first local bank to give employees the payout instead of channelling the funds into other initiatives.
OCBC Bank employee, 29-year-old Gabriel Lee, will be among those eligible to get the payout.
He has been working in the bank’s consumer financial services division for over two years.
Mr Lee was pleasantly surprised when he learned that he would be getting an additional 40% of the increment he received last year between June and July this year.
He said: “I felt recognised, and happy that the bank is looking at our contributions, and deciding to reward us in this way. As they say, money talks, and I think this is the best way that the company is showing how it recognises us.”
The Wage Credit Scheme was introduced by the government in Budget 2013 to help businesses which may face rising wage costs in a tight labour market.
Under the scheme, over the period of 2013 to 2015, the government will co-fund 40% of wage increases given to Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of $4,000 and below.
For example, if a company increases the gross monthly wage of an employee by $200 in 2013, the government will co-fund 40% of this wage increase.
So, $80 will be paid to the company in 2014, and in the subsequent years as well, if the increase is sustained.
The Wage Credit Scheme payouts will allow businesses to free up resources to make investments in productivity.
In this case, OCBC Bank opted to give the amount co-funded by the government to its employees.
The employees can choose to have their payouts credited to their CPF accounts or invest in shares via the OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan.
The recipients of the Wage Credit Scheme comprise 25% of the bank’s total staff strength.
Junior executives and unionised employees make up the majority, with most of them in the Consumer Financial Services and Operations and Technology divisions.
Of the 1,500 recipients, 36% will get between S$1,001 and S$2,000; 20% will get between S$501 and S$1,000 and 15% will get between S$2,001 and S$3,000.
The total payout due to those employees who have since left the bank is about $600,000.
Ernest Phang, OCBC’s Head of Corporate Services, Group Human Resources, said: “What we are going to do is put this money into employee training and development. So we will re-invest this into programmes to build up employees’ competencies and skills.”
The Singapore Bank Employees’ Union welcomed OCBC Bank’s move, saying it was a generous gesture.
The Singapore Bank Officers’ Association said it hopes other banks can consider doing the same thing for their employees.