It's clients who want 12-hour work shift for security

Most security agencies would prefer to adopt the eight-hour shift roster, as Mr Marcus Tan Tuan Hin suggested ("Change working hours of security officers"; Jan 2).

However, one needs to understand that tenders are specified by the clients , who often want the guards to work in 12-hour shifts.

Security agencies are not in a position to control this.

An agency could, of course, offer the alternative eight-hour shift when bidding, but risk being disqualified.

Implementing three eight-hour shifts would require the client to pay more, as there would be three men to pay, as opposed to justtwo guards working two 12-hour shifts.

Moreover, with manpower constraints, it is not easy to find men or women to work the extra shift.

It should also be noted that having security officers work eight-hour shifts does not mean that the officer would constrain himself to working only eight hours daily.

The Police Licensing and Regulatory Department allows security officers to register themselves with two security agencies.

This means that an officer who needs more income could finish his first eight-hour shift with one company and go on to start another eight-hour or even 12-hour shift with a different company.

This defeats the purpose of the policy because officers will still not get adequate rest.

I agree that with terrorist threats being the uppermost concern on our minds these days, and knowing that adequate rest is important to ensure security officers stay alert during their duties, changes to our regulatory regime need to happen.

If the eight-hour work shift is to become a reality, the authorities, be it the police or Ministry of Manpower, would need to convince the private sector to also adopt the new framework of the eight-hour work day.

This is not up to the security agencies to dictate or decide.

Jimmy Lau Siah Kok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'It's clients who want 12-hour work shift for security'. Print Edition | Subscribe