57 cleaning firms fined for failing to pay bonuses, progressive wages under Progressive Wage Model

A review of the model in 2016 led to cleaners getting 3 per cent annual wage increases from 2020 to 2022.
A review of the model in 2016 led to cleaners getting 3 per cent annual wage increases from 2020 to 2022.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of 57 licensed cleaning companies have been fined for failing to comply with requirements under the Progressive Wage Model for the cleaning sector, such as failing to pay eligible cleaners bonuses or progressive wages.

Another 52 firms were issued warning letters for similar breaches, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu told Parliament on Monday (Aug 2).

These breaches occurred in the seven years between April 2014 - when the wage ladder was introduced - and May 31 this year.

Ms Fu was responding to a question filed by Dr Wan Rizal Wan Zakariah (Jalan Besar GRC).

Dr Wan Rizal said that based on industry feedback, some companies may try to circumvent the latest Progressive Wage Model requirements by cutting corners or by engaging non-licensed cleaning businesses.

In the light of this, he asked if the National Environment Agency (NEA) would consider a whistle-blower system.

Ms Fu said NEA will consider anyone who informs it about non-compliance, adding that the agency, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment together with the Ministry of Manpower will conduct enforcement checks.

The Progressive Wage Model is a ladder that sets out minimum pay and training requirements for workers at different skill levels.

It has been a licensing requirement for cleaning companies since 2014, and applies to only full-time and part-time resident cleaners directly employed by cleaning businesses licensed by NEA.

A review of the model in 2016 led to cleaners getting 3 per cent annual wage increases from 2020 to 2022, as well as mandatory annual bonuses of at least two weeks of basic monthly wages from last year.

Wages under the model are set to increase again from 2023 to 2028 after the Government accepted proposals put forth by a tripartite committee in June.

For example, the first adjustment in 2023 will see base wages of general and indoor cleaners increase by almost 20 per cent from $1,312 in 2022 to $1,570.

This is expected to benefit about 40,000 cleaners across 1,500 cleaning firms here.

In March, a tripartite workgroup on lower-wage workers also raised the possibility of extending the Progressive Wage Model to cleaners not employed by a licensed cleaning business but are employed in-house.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said last week in a written reply to Mr Louis Ng (Nee Soon GRC) that the workgroup is finalising its recommendations and will share more details on this move in due course.