WAGES in the Philippines are projected to increase by 5.6% next year but the uncertainty inflicted by the pandemic could cloud prospects for higher pay and bonuses, according to a survey by consulting firm Mercer.

In its Total Remuneration Survey (TRS) 2020, Mercer said Philippine companies will raise pay by an average of 5.6% in 2021. The equivalent raises for this year averaged 5.3%.

However, companies remain “cautious” after the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis disrupted operations and might delay salary hikes.

“Due to the uncertainty, more than half of the companies have indicated that they will delay the increase of salaries or revise salary increment levels. With sustained pressure on businesses to keep costs down, we see that companies are taking a cautious approach with regard to salary budgets,” Mercer Career Business Leader for the Philippines Floriza Molon said in a statement.

The survey also found that variable bonuses for 2020 decreased by 16%. Ms. Molon said bonuses could fall next year because of the crisis. Some 50% of respondents said it is “too early to tell” whether bonuses will fall next year, while 14% said they expect a reduction.

“Ninety-one percent of companies provided bonuses in 2020, reflecting their strong performance in 2019. However, we foresee a decrease in bonus payouts in 2021 due to the uncertain economic environment,” she said.

The Mercer survey was conducted on 416 Philippine companies from various industries between April and June, with additional surveys conducted in July and August. — Gillian M. Cortez