Pay rise, bonus for cleaners and landscape workers

The measures announced on July 3, 2019, are expected to benefit more than 40,000 cleaners employed by around 1,300 firms.
The measures announced on July 3, 2019, are expected to benefit more than 40,000 cleaners employed by around 1,300 firms.PHOTO: ST FILE

Measures part of moves to lift low-income workers' pay under Progressive Wage Model

Cleaners and landscape maintenance workers will get bonuses from Jan 1 next year as well as annual pay rises in the next few years.

The measures are part of moves to lift the pay of lower-income workers at a time when issues like inequality have been in the spotlight.

The initiatives come under the Progressive Wage Model, which sets out the minimum pay for different job levels and pegs wage increases to a skills ladder.

It applies to workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors. Lift technicians were added in September last year.

Recommendations from an addendum to the Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry report were released yesterday and accepted by the Government.

Measures recommended by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners last November were also adopted by the Commissioner for Labour yesterday.

The Progressive Wage Model for the landscaping sector states that eligible staff will receive a mandatory annual bonus from Jan 1 next year. Landscape maintenance employees who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents and who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months will be paid the bonus.

 
 
 

The payout in any given year must be no less than two weeks of the worker's basic monthly wage. It has to be paid at least once but not more than twice a year.

The landscape sector employs about 3,000 residents. Companies will have to increase the minimum monthly basic pay for workers at various job levels by $150 from July next year, and by another $100 in 2021, and then in 2022.

This means that resident landscape workers, whose basic monthly wage is now at least $1,300, will see that rise to $1,450 in the middle of next year, then to $1,650 in July 2022.

After that, from 2023 to 2025, workers will get a minimum annual wage increment of 3 per cent, subject to a review, for all landscape maintenance job levels from July 1 each year.

The Ministry of Manpower and the National Parks Board said the recommendations will ensure that landscape maintenance employees enjoy sustained wage growth.

It is not just about more money, but about improving the image of the sector, said Ms Jacqueline Allan, acting chairman of the Landscape Industry Association Singapore.

"These are skills that deserve to command such a salary and the Progressive Wage Model will help to take away the impression that this kind of career is low wage or unskilled. I hope this will change the mindset of people."

Cleaners will also get a bonus from Jan 1 next year, as well as 3 per cent annual wage increases from next year to 2022. This will be implemented for all licensed cleaning businesses and for all resident cleaners from July 1 next year.

For instance, general resident cleaners working in food and beverage establishments are now paid at least $1,200. Their pay will rise to at least $1,236 from July next year, and then to a minimum of $1,312 from July 2022.

The measures are expected to benefit more than 40,000 cleaners employed by around 1,300 firms.

The Manpower Ministry said cleaning businesses that seek to be licensed must ensure that remuneration for resident cleaners meets the new guidelines.

National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari said: "The implementation of the bonus is a milestone change for the cleaning and landscape workers because not all of them are receiving any form of bonus.

 

"The two weeks' bonus is a good start and... we hope these workers will get an equivalent of a 13th month bonus many other workers are getting. This bonus translates to about a 4 per cent increase in the wages received by these workers."

Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank, said both workers and companies have to do their part.

"Companies have to enable their employees to leverage technology and go for training to upskill. Workers have to improve their skills and productivity so as to justify higher wages and bonuses. Without both going hand in hand, it may not be feasible for fundamental and structural changes to take place."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'Pay rise, bonus for cleaners and landscape workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe