LPN Development, which was last year's champion with a bonus equal to 8.6 months of salary, has paid four to six months' salary this year.
Stealing the championship for 2008, Airports of Thailand has paid bonuses equal to seven months' salary, compared with only two months last year, thanks to the return of income from the King Power Group. The company's performance - as a basis for fixing bonus payments - did not take into account the effects of the recent forced closure of Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, because its fiscal year ends in September.
Closure of the airports reduced the number of tourists, and Thai Airways International said it expected its load factor and revenue to fall sharply. This led the national carrier to announce that it would not pay bonuses in 2008, the first time in 34 years. Last year, it paid three months' salary.
An employee at Centara Hotels and Resorts, which is paying 1.5 months compared to 1.25 months last year, said: "Before the airport closure, we were thinking about a two-month payment, or at least 1.75 months, as the [company's] performance is better than last year".
However, Centara's employees are luckier than many.
According to the Personnel Management Association of Thailand (PMAT), the average bonus payment is equal to only 1.6 months' salary - the same as in 2007.
PMAT president Marisa Chaopruttipong said the top five industries paying the highest bonuses in 2008 were unchanged from those in 2007. Food and beverage companies paid the highest, with an average equalling 2.25 months' salary, up from two months in 2007; industrial products companies were next with an average of 2.17 months, up from 1.72 months; logistics and transportation, 1.67 months, down from two months; petrochemical and chemical products, 1.57 months, down from 1.63 months; and property companies, 1.53 months, down from 1.87 months.
Communication services and computer companies paid the lowest bonuses, averaging one month's salary.
In 2006, automotive companies paid the highest bonuses, averaging 3.4 months' salary. These companies have taken a beating this year from falling demand both at home and overseas. Trailing behind auto companies in terms of bonus payments two years ago were those in manufacturing, consumer products, chemicals and electronic appliances.
The bad news now is that PMAT believes bonus payments in 2009 will be lower than those this year because of deteriorating economic conditions and - once again - political uncertainty.
It is perhaps not surprising to find that, under these circumstances, most employees questioned by The Nation said that, bonus or not, they were happy to simply still be employed, when many forecasts point to 1 million workers losing their jobs next year.