Cleaners to see their wages increase over 6 years from 2023

Move set to benefit 40,000 workers across 1,500 cleaning businesses in Singapore

Cleaners will see their wages continue to go up each year from 2023, over six years, after proposals by a tripartite committee on the cleaning wage ladder were accepted by the Government yesterday.

From 2023 to 2028, the base wages of Singaporean and permanent resident cleaners across all job levels will increase each year. This will benefit about 40,000 cleaners across about 1,500 cleaning businesses in Singapore.

The first adjustment in 2023 will see base wages of general and indoor cleaners increase by, for example, almost 20 per cent from $1,312 next year to $1,570.

The move is meant to narrow the income disparity between cleaners and other workers. Under previous updates to the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in 2016 and 2018, cleaners were slated to get 3 per cent annual wage increases from last year to next year.

The latest wage increases were among new recommendations made by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC), after it conducted another round of reviews of the model.

The PWM, a ladder that sets out minimum pay and training requirements for workers at different skill levels, was launched in the cleaning sector by the TCC in 2012. It has been a compulsory condition since 2014 for the licensing of cleaning companies.

The TCC - which comprises representatives from the labour movement, industry, service buyers and the Government - also recommended having cleaners trained in workplace safety and health protocols by the end of next year.

This is to ensure their personal safety when carrying out cleaning tasks, especially in the light of increased cleaning demands due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Employers should also send cleaners for one of the core Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) modules identified by the TCC for their relevant job levels.

The PWM training guidelines had earlier required that all resident cleaners attain the minimum two WSQ certificates next year.

With the latest recommendations, cleaners will have until December next year to complete the two modules.

Ms Phyllis Lim, deputy director of the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) U Care Centre, which supports low-wage workers, said in a press statement yesterday that training class sizes have been reduced to adhere to Covid-19 safe management measures.

"The new timeline is to allow sufficient time for cleaning businesses to comply with the training requirements... By the end of 2022, they should be able to send their cleaners (for the modules)."

Another recommendation was that beyond 2025, cleaners in lower job rungs must complete one additional module, while those in higher job rungs must complete two extra modules.

The list of WSQ training modules has been updated, and will periodically be updated to ensure its relevance, the TCC said.

The Ministry of Manpower, National Environment Agency, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore said in a joint statement yesterday that the recommendations will "ensure significant wage growth and skills upgrading for cleaners, and develop a more competent and productive cleaning workforce".

They said: "Together, our collective whole-of-society efforts will uplift our lower-wage workers."

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said in a Facebook post: "I am glad that many of us are more aware of the value of work our cleaners do... Pandemic or not, uplifting the lives of our lower-wage workers matters to us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2021, with the headline 'Cleaners to see their wages increase over 6 years from 2023'. Subscribe