Higher wages, less overtime work ahead for security guards

Senior security officer Mr Mohamed Alfie Idris, 38, will be able to spend more time at home four years from now, when restrictions on overtime hours in the security industry take effect.
Senior security officer Mr Mohamed Alfie Idris, 38, will be able to spend more time at home four years from now, when restrictions on overtime hours in the security industry take effect. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Basic pay to rise by around $300 between 2019 and 2021; firms won't be allowed to apply for overtime extensions

Security guards will be paid more while working fewer overtime hours each month in future.

Their basic pay will increase by around $300 between 2019 and 2021.

After that, they will receive an annual basic pay increment of at least 3 per cent, under recommendations accepted by the Governmentyesterday.

All security guards will also be allowed to put in a maximum of only 72 overtime hours a month.

The current practice - in which security companies apply for overtime exemptions so that their employees can work past this limit - will be discontinued from 2021.

The higher basic pay and subsequent annual increments are meant to offset the cap on overtime hours.

Security agencies must adopt the recommendations from Jan 1, 2019.

  • PROGRESSIVE WAGE MODEL

  • $1,100

    From this, a security guard's starting basic monthly wage will go up by $75 in 2019 and 2020, followed by a $150 raise in 2021.

  • INCREMENT

  • 3%

    Minimum annual increase in basic pay from 2022 to 2024, subject to review.

The Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) yesterday unveiled details of its proposals, which were made to draw younger Singaporeans to a sector facing growing demand, with more buildings and infrastructure being constructed amid the rising threat of terrorism.

STC chairman Zainal Sapari, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, said security guards surveyed often cite excessive working hours as a reason for leaving the industry.

"To attract young people or make it practical for older people to join the industry, reducing overtime is something that must be done," he said, adding that guards also need enough rest to do their job well.

The changes will benefit more than 34,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents working as security guards.

They follow a review of the progressive wage model in the security industry - a wage ladder that aims to raise the salaries of low-wage workers through skills upgrading and improvements in productivity.

It is compulsory for companies licensed in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors to adopt the wage model. This specifies a starting wage of at least $1,100 a month for security guards, with salaries starting from $1,300 and more for those who are higher-skilled.

Their pay has risen since 2014, when the wage model was introduced, said the STC. It became mandatory in September last year.

Between 2014 and last year, the median basic wage of full-time security guards grew by 23 per cent per year. It was $1,300 in June last year.

With the changes, their basic monthly wages will go up by $75 in 2019 and 2020, followed by a $150 raise in 2021.

Those in senior ranks will see a total increase of $285 in monthly pay: $60 more for the first two years, followed by a $165 raise in 2021.

The security sector has the highest average figure of weekly overtime hours per worker, said a 2014 report by the STC, which mooted removing overtime exemptions. Security guards clock as many as 95 hours of overtime work each month.

Currently, overtime exemption is not given for certain types of work, such as those that require continuous and manual operation of machinery, or work at elevated heights.

 

The STC recommended an annual wage increase of at least 3 per cent from 2022 to 2024, subject to review, to ensure that security guards do not see their pay stagnate at the minimum level stipulated by the wage ladder.

The STC also urged security agencies to start planning early and work with their customers to review their operations and manpower needs.

It suggested that companies adopt technological solutions that can help reduce their reliance on manpower, but still allow them to keep premises secure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline 'Higher wages, less overtime work ahead for security guards'. Print Edition | Subscribe