Certain cleaning firms exempted from licensing scheme

Firms that clean swimming pools and homes will not come under a new licensing scheme for the cleaning industry.

Announcing the exemption on Friday, the authorities also said that the tighter measures to regulate the industry will kick in "within five months" from April and cover firms that provide general cleaning services in public places and private buildings.

Besides swimming pool and home cleaners, firms such as those that remove construction debris from work sites, clean building facades on gondolas and animal pens in the zoo are also exempted, said the National Environment Agency, which is spearheading the new scheme.

Under the new rules, cleaning firms will be required by law to pay cleaners at least $1,000 each month and progressively higher salaries if they handle cleaning machines or supervise cleaning teams. Firms that do not pay the minimum basic salaries spelt out on the salary ladder can be fined up to $5,000.

The unprecedented move was announced by the Government early this month to raise the persistently low salaries of cleaners.

It will be extended to firms that employ security guards although no timeframe was set.