Coronavirus: Call for workers, firms in cleaning sector to be paid fairly

Employers should also consider sending cleaners for training, says advisory issued by MOM and other bodies

Cleaners at Beatty Secondary School last week, after schools shifted to full home-based learning. The advisory said cleaning firms should consider increasing the wages of cleaners with higher workloads or providing them with allowances.
Cleaners at Beatty Secondary School last week, after schools shifted to full home-based learning. The advisory said cleaning firms should consider increasing the wages of cleaners with higher workloads or providing them with allowances.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Workers and firms in the cleaning sector should be paid appropriately even as work is re-prioritised during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the industry remains viable.

Employers should also consider sending cleaners, particularly those with decreased workloads, for training and upskilling.

These were among the recommendations in a tripartite advisory issued by the National Environment Agency, Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress, Singapore National Employers Federation, Environmental Management Association of Singapore and the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners yesterday.

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad noted yesterday that while some premises have required more cleaning during this period, others have needed less, owing to decreased footfall.

"These fast-developing changes have ripple effects - with the abrupt increase and decrease in demand affecting the sustainability of the sector and its ability to keep premises clean," he said.

The advisory called on service buyers - such as businesses that outsource the cleaning of their premises - not to ask for reduced contract fees as their service providers are receiving assistance through the enhanced Jobs Support Scheme. Instead, they should pay for additional services carried out on top of the regular contract.

Despite many premises experiencing reduced footfall with most people now working from home, the advisory also recommended that some baseline level of cleaning be maintained so that businesses will be able to resume operations without health hazards.

Cleaning companies should consider increasing the wages of cleaners with higher workloads or providing them with allowances.

The advisory also reminded cleaning firms to continue to pay cleaners with reduced workloads, in line with previous advisories related to salary and leave arrangements, noting that the firms are receiving wage support of up to 75 per cent during the circuit breaker period under the Jobs Support Scheme.

 
 

Service buyers should also exercise restraint in activating penalty clauses for contract breaches beyond a service provider's control.

"Many of our cleaners have been at the front line of our fight against the virus. They have taken on more duties and worked longer hours as they increase the frequency and intensity of cleaning," said Mr Zaqy.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2020, with the headline 'Call for workers, firms in cleaning sector to be paid fairly'. Subscribe