Parliament: Cleaning companies required to pay cleaners an annual bonus from 2020

The move will benefit more than 40,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who work as cleaners.
The move will benefit more than 40,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who work as cleaners.ST PHOTO: JASMINE CHOONG

SINGAPORE - Cleaners will receive an income boost from January 2020, when it becomes mandatory for cleaning companies to pay them an annual bonus on top of their wages.

The move will benefit more than 40,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who work as cleaners, and they may receive up to 4 per cent more in wages each year.

Under the Environmental Public Health (Amendment) Bill passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 2), cleaning businesses which do not comply with this new requirement will be fined or risk losing their licences.

An annual bonus for cleaners was among several recommendations made by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) two years ago (2016). It had recommended a minimum annual bonus of two weeks of a cleaner's basic monthly wage.

Another proposal is yearly wage adjustments between 2017 and 2022.

The TCC's various recommendations build on a mandatory progressive wage model for the cleaning sector that was introduced in 2014.

Besides mandating an annual bonus for cleaners, the new law also expands the use of the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS) in Singapore, from individual developments to an entire district.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said it is "a milestone in our journey to transform our environmental services industry through innovation and technology".

"At the same time, we will upskill our environmental services workers, and improve their livelihood and working conditions," Dr Khor told the House.

The Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System is an automated waste collection system which uses air pressure to convey waste through sealed pipes, from rubbish throw-points to a bin centre.

It replaces the need for cleaners to manually collect waste from individual apartment blocks and bring it to a bin centre, and as the entire system is enclosed, odour and pests are reduced.

The new legislation will allow the Government to implement the system in entire designated districts, and all private developments in that area will be required to connect to a refuse pipeline network.

Dr Khor said: "By implementing PWCS at the district level, we can reap more economies of scale. For example, instead of having bin centres in each development, the district can share a central bin centre."

The National Environment Agency will also be given powers to license the vendor that builds, operates or maintains the district-level Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System, to ensure the company that takes on the project will be properly regulated.

The district-level system will be implemented first at Kampong Bugis, which has been designated to be redeveloped into a car-lite precinct and people-centric precinct, said Dr Khor.

The Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System is already in use in Yuhua estate, where 38 blocks of Housing Board flats were retrofitted with it in 2015.