SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) has fined 57 licensed cleaning businesses for failing to comply with requirements under the progressive wage model since it was introduced, said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu in Parliament on Monday (Aug 2).
Warning letters were also issued to 52 cleaning businesses for offences such as failing to pay bonuses or progressive wages to eligible cleaners.
Ms Fu was responding to parliamentary questions from MP Wan Rizal (PAP-Jalan Besar) on the number of licensed cleaning businesses that failed to comply with the progressive wage model since its implementation in 2014 and the actions taken against these companies.
The figures Ms Fu gave in Parliament are for the period up to May 31 this year.
The progressive wage model for the cleaning industry was first introduced in 2012 and was formally implemented in 2014 when licensing for the cleaning industry was made mandatory.
To obtain a licence, cleaning companies are required to pay their local employees minimum wages set out under the progressive wage model and send them for training.
In response to Dr Wan Rizal's question on the efforts to professionalise the cleaning industry and "promote good practices to transform the industry", Ms Fu said there are initiatives under the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map.
The initiatives aim to professionalise the cleaning workforce through adopting technology, training cleaners and improving procurement practices.
"These will help to build a professional, skilled and manpower-lean cleaning workforce, and drive the adoption of good practices within the industry," she said.
In a supplementary question, Dr Wan Rizal said that based on industry feedback, some companies may try to circumvent the latest requirements.
A new schedule of wage increases was announced in June by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners.
The base salaries of cleaners who are Singaporeans or permanent residents are set to go up to between S$1,570 and S$2,210 in 2023. The amount will increase by at least S$170 each year until 2028.
The pay increases from 2023 are higher than in previous years.
"Will NEA consider a whistleblower system that will help in ensuring both buyers of cleaning services and cleaning companies comply with the intricacies of the PWM (progressive wage model), such as fair contracts, to achieve the desired social outcome?" asked Dr Wan Rizal.
Ms Fu said in response that feedback from anyone who comes forward to report non-compliance will be considered, and NEA will conduct enforcement checks along with the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and the Ministry of Manpower.