Bonus for cleaners helpful to this group of workers

We thank Mr Cheng Shoong Tat for his letter (Not way for Govt to act in a market economy; Oct 5).

The Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners, comprising various stakeholders in the industry, held extensive discussions on having a compulsory annual bonus, or progressive wage model (PWM) bonus, for cleaners.

Feedback was also sought from cleaning businesses and service buyers and all are generally supportive of the move.

A mandatory two-week annual PWM bonus was recommended for cleaners who work for the same cleaning businesses for at least 12 months.

Besides helping to uplift their wages, the bonus is intended to incentivise cleaners to stay with the same employer for better career progression, while encouraging cleaning businesses to invest in training and productivity.

The PWM bonus is not meant to be tied to workers' performance. It is similar to the 13th-month bonus many workers receive.

The industry has been given time to adapt to the requirements. The PWM bonus was first announced in 2016 and will become compulsory only in 2020.

Currently, while some employers give annual bonuses or added welfare benefits to their cleaners beyond the statutory requirements, many don't.

The industry felt that we should do more to improve the working terms for cleaners across the board, many of whom are older and do not have higher educational qualifications. The PWM bonus payable is a good step to help this group of workers and is indeed a win-win not just for cleaners and cleaning businesses, but also for service buyers.

As a society, we should take tangible steps to protect our low-wage workers. Such a regulation reflects the tripartite partners' desire to uplift the lives of our cleaners.

Zainal Sapari

Chairman

Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Bonus for cleaners helpful to this group of workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe