More than 1,000 cleaning businesses licensed

From 1 September 2014, resident cleaners deployed under new cleaning contracts to be paid wages based on the Progressive Wage Model

Since the licensing regime for cleaning businesses came into effect on 1 April 2014, 1,001 cleaning businesses, with a total workforce of 52,000 cleaners (including 38,000 resident cleaners), have been licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA). The majority of the cleaning sector comprises small businesses, with 50 or fewer cleaners. [Refer to Annex A for the breakdown of the cleaning workforce of licensed cleaning businesses]. Despite their relatively small size, these cleaning businesses have successfully met the licensing conditions, which include sending at least half of their cleaners for training and paying their cleaners progressive wages. To date, about 33,000 cleaners from licensed businesses have been trained, higher than the 50 per cent requirement for the first year under the new licensing regime.

From today, licensed companies will need to pay their resident cleaners wages according to the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for those deployed under new cleaning contracts entered into on or after 1 April 2014. Thus far, over 26,000 resident cleaners in licensed cleaning businesses are being paid wages according to the PWM. By 1 September 2015, licensed companies will have to pay progressive wages to all their resident cleaners including those under existing cleaning contracts.

Since 1 April 2014, NEA has been actively engaging all cleaning businesses that have applied, to have them complete their submissions in support of their licence applications, so as to facilitate the issuance of the licences by 1 September 2014. So far, all cleaning businesses that applied have successfully obtained their licences. [Refer to Annex B for further background on the licensing regime for cleaning businesses].

Support for cleaning businesses

At the point of renewing their licences in the subsequent year, cleaning businesses are required to ensure that 100 per cent of their cleaners are trained. In order to ensure that
resident cleaners have access to the relevant training required under the cleaning business licensing regime, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has set aside an additional $8.9 million over the next two years to keep training costs affordable. Cleaning companies have the option of flexible and accessible on-site and bite-sized training offered by WDA’s appointed training partners, to help them overcome their operational constraints in sending their employees for training. Cleaning businesses can tap on WDA’s course fee support to train local cleaners in Environmental Cleaning Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) to help boost the overall standards and capabilities of the cleaning industry.

NEA’s Director-General for the Environmental Public Health Division, Mr Derek Ho, said, “We are pleased that more than 1,000 cleaning businesses have come onboard and are supportive of the cleaning licensing regime. We believe this will translate to better performing workers and more satisfied service buyers through enhanced service quality and higher standards.”

Better Lives for Cleaners with PWM

At a Learning Journey event organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) today, three cleaning companies – Weishen Industrial Services, Veolia Environmental Services and LS 2 Services – showcased their productivity initiatives to tripartite partners and union leaders. These productivity drives have resulted in better jobs, better skills and better wages for their cleaners.

The PWM was first mooted by the Labour Movement in June 2012. Thereafter, the PWM for the cleaning sector was endorsed and launched by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) in October 2012. Since then, the Labour Movement has been engaging companies on the PWM and encouraging service buyers to outsource responsibly and adopt best practices when doing so, with the ultimate goal of giving cleaners a better life. One of the tools that have been used to help companies move towards PWM, raise productivity and up-skill cleaners is the Labour Movement’s Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP), which is administered by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).

All 56 unionised cleaning companies under the Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU) have attained their licences from NEA. According to a survey conducted by BATU, an estimated 20,000 out of the 23,000 resident cleaners employed by these 56 companies are currently being paid wages according to the PWM.

Mr Zainal Sapari, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and member of the TCC, said, “We are very happy that our efforts to push for better wages for our cleaners have finally come to fruition. It is encouraging to see that many cleaning companies, even the smaller SMEs, have embraced the PWM even before the licensing regime kicked-in. Not only are they now reaping the rewards of higher productivity and better-trained employees, our cleaners are also enjoying the benefits of better job prospects and wage progression.”

Penalties for non-compliance

Cleaning businesses will not be allowed to operate without a valid licence. Similarly, service buyers will be liable to penalties if found engaging unlicensed cleaning businesses. Service buyers may refer to the list of licensed cleaning businesses published on the NEA website at http://app2.nea.gov.sg/cleaningbusinesslicence to ensure that the cleaning businesses they engage have been licensed.

NEA and MOM will conduct enforcement and investigations on cleaning businesses to ensure that licensed cleaning businesses adhere to the licensing conditions and pay their cleaners the right wages. Cleaning businesses are reminded that they face stiff penalties1 if they fail to meet licensing requirements.

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