SINGAPORE: The Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) has recommended a higher basic wage and reduced overtime hours for private security officers.
This comes after a review of the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and overtime exemption (OTE) for the private security industry, the STC said in a media release on Thursday (Nov 23).
An estimated 34,000 resident security workers are expected to benefit from these changes.
Among the key recommendations, the STC proposed annual increments to each basic wage floor from Jan 1, 2019 to 2021.
“The STC recommends a total increase of S$300 to the PWM basic wage floor for Security Officer ranks; and S$285 for Senior Security Officers and above ranks from 2019 to 2021. Higher quantum increments are recommended in 2021 – the year that OTE is removed – so that most security officers’ gross wages would not be adversely affected due to a reduction in overtime hours.”
The STC also recommended an increase of at least 3 per cent per annum to the PWM basic wage floor “across all ranks”, for 2022 to 2024.
It reasoned that this would help the industry “better plan and budget for manpower costs” for new service contracts.
REDUCTION IN OVERTIME HOURS
The STC also recommended removing OTE with effect from Jan 1, 2021 in order to “improve the working conditions and achieve better work-life balance” for security officers.
Currently, security agencies are issued OTE to meet their operational needs on a case-by-case basis.
The STC added that the three-year lead time for the transition was “necessary for security agencies and service buyers to review their operations and manpower needs, and implement solutions to reduce their reliance on man-hours.”
Additionally, security agencies deploying security staff on 12-hour shifts for six days a week are encouraged to allow workers an additional two days of rest in a month.
UPGRADING SKILLS AND TECHNOLOGY
As the demand for security services increases in the current security climate, the STC also urged companies to tap on technology solutions and government grants to “raise productivity and become more manpower-lean”.
Security officers and agencies are also encouraged to upgrade the skill set of workers.
STC said it hopes that these changes will ensure that security officers remain competent and will attract younger Singaporeans to join the security sector.
Salaries will be commensurate to the officer's level of training and amount of responsibility, but to attract younger Singaporeans "we have to ensure there is (a) career prospect," said STC's chairman Zainal Sapari.
"It is still a work in progress, but we do hope that in future we can reduce the working hours further to make it more attractive for younger people to join the industry."
Security agencies have been urged to start planning early and to work with their service buyers to review their operations and manpower needs.
STC stated that these changes were needed as the demand for security services increased "with the emergence of new buildings and infrastructure" and the "rising threat of terrorism".
Mr Zainal added that there would "definitely be an increase in costs" for procuring security services.
"We do hope that security buyers can work with security agencies to see how they can mitigate this cost increase through greater usage of technology.”
Security Association Singapore president Raj Joshua Thomas agreed with Mr Zainal, adding that security agencies need to look into tightening the job scope of security officers.
"Some of the non-security functions that security officers do now include things like taking water meter readings, technician work, looking out for leaks. These are not purely security functions and they really ought to be done by someone else ... They have to focus on access control, patrolling and safety and security," he said.
"We are looking at an increase of 30 to 35 per cent from today's prices to 2021, and buyers need to factor these into their budgets," he said, adding that buyers needed to mitigate this by putting in technology that will require some capital expenditure upfront.
"Perhaps security functions like collecting and exchanging passes, these are things that can be augmented by the use of technology.”
The STC was formed in 2013 to address issues in the security industry through the development of a progressive wage model, which is meant to set out an approach to reduce the industry's need for excessive overtime hours.
It is made up of representatives from employers, service buyers, the labour movement and the Government.