SINGAPORE - Private security officers will see their wages go up annually over six years, after proposals put forth by a tripartite committee on the security wage ladder were accepted by the Government on Friday (Nov 12).
This will benefit about 40,000 security employees across 265 agencies in Singapore.
The basic monthly wage for security officers who are lowest-ranked on the ladder will more than double from $1,650 in 2023 to $3,530 by 2028.
At the other end, senior security supervisors will see their monthly wage increase from $2,240 to $4,430 over the same period.
Overall, the monthly gross wage across all job levels will rise at an average compound annual rate of 6.6 per cent from 2022 to 2028, under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for Singaporean and permanent resident workers.
This is more than twice the minimum 3 per cent annual increase announced in November 2017 under a previous set of recommendations.
The monthly gross wage is estimated based on a basic wage and 72 overtime hours.
The 3 per cent increase to baseline wages will still come into effect next year, but the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) recommended a "significant increase" to the security officers' monthly wages in 2023 as well as a fixed dollar quantum annual increment from 2024 to 2028.
The PWM for the private security industry was first announced by the STC in October 2014.
It has been implemented as a licensing condition for private security agencies since September 2016.
The STC said one of the aims of the latest review to the PWM is to address the manpower crunch faced by the private security industry.
NTUC assistant director-general Zainal Sapari, who chairs the STC, said this shortage has been "a perennial problem".
"This is partly due to the fact that many service buyers are still relying on headcount-based contracts. This is exacerbated further by the fact that during this Covid-19 period, there are safe management measures by clients, which the security agencies need to support.
"Coupled with new buildings coming up, there is a shortage of security officers," he said.
The latest recommendations can address some of the challenges faced by the industry, Mr Zainal added.
The STC also noted the need for sustainable wage growth without excessive working hours.
It recommended that from 2024 onwards, PWM baseline wages for security officers should include wages paid for work done in addition to the industry's 44-hour regular work week.
As an added measure to safeguard the security officers' welfare under the new wage schedule, it also recommended that a maximum cap of 72 hours a month in extra hours be set above the 44-hour work week.
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, president of the Security Association Singapore, said it is difficult for the industry to attract and retain talent when "officers are working 12-hour shifts six days a week at relatively low wages".
"So the industry and security buyers must bite the bullet. And there is an urgency to it. We shouldn't look at security officers as a cheap resource," said Mr Thomas.
But service buyers can temper this extra cost by reducing headcount and installing technology, as well as engage consultants to get advice on how to deploy scarce manpower and technology effectively, he added.
"All this requires a mindset change amongst buyers and security agencies to embrace a very different security industry of the future," Mr Thomas said.
The STC is also intensifying efforts to raise industry standards and improve the productivity of security officers through technology adoption and skills upgrading.
It called for service providers to invest in technology and explore job redesign or other ways to improve productivity and service outcomes.
Security agencies can make use of available programmes and resources, such as the Productivity Solutions Grant, or approach the Union of Security Employees and security trade associations if they need help driving transformation efforts, the STC noted.
Meanwhile, those in the security workforce should embrace upskilling and adopt a positive mindset towards learning new skills and work processes, it added.
At the same time, service buyers should adopt outcome-based contracting and progressive procurement practices, rather than headcount-based contracting.
Members of the public, too, should be civic-minded and "respect our front-line security officers who are carrying out their duties to safeguard everyone's interests", the STC urged.
The Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Home Affairs said in a joint statement on Friday that the recommendations are timely and will augment tripartite efforts to uplift lower-wage workers and transform the security industry.
"Government agencies will work closely with tripartite partners to implement the recommendations and create more meaningful careers for security officers, increase productivity, and improve security outcomes in a sustainable manner," they said.