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Singapore

Monthly wages for security officers to increase over six-year period from 2023

Basic monthly wages for the lowest ranking officers will more than double from S$1,650 in 2023 to S$3,530 by 2028. 

SINGAPORE: From 2023, the baseline wages of security officers in Singapore will progressively increase over six years, after recommendations by the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) were accepted by the Government on Friday (Nov 12).

Noting that a previously announced 3 per cent increase to baseline wages will still come into effect next year, the STC said it recommended a "significant increase" to the monthly wages of security officers in 2023 as well as a fixed dollar quantum annual increment from 2024 to 2028. 

This means that the monthly gross wage of the lowest-ranked security officers will increase by more than 50 per cent from 2022 to 2028, the STC said in a media release on Friday (Nov 12). 

The monthly gross wage for 2022 is estimated based on a basic wage and 72 overtime hours.

The basic wage for security officers will more than double from S$1,650 in 2023 to S$3,530 by 2028.  

Meanwhile senior security supervisors, which is the highest rank, will see their basic monthly wages increase from S$2,240 to S$4,430 over the same period. 

"Overall, the monthly gross wage across all job levels will increase by an average Compound Annual Growth Rate of 6.6 per cent from 2022 to 2028 – more than two times the minimum 3 per cent annual increase announced in November 2017," the STC said. 

Formed in 2013 to look into a Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security industry, the STC is made up of representatives from the unions, industry associations and the Government.

"In proposing the PWM baseline wages, the STC had taken in guidance by the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers to ensure that overall wage growth of security officers outpaces the median resident worker, for our lower-wage workers to gain ground on the median worker," the cluster said. 

It added that the wage schedule will be reviewed in 2025. 

"PERENNIAL CHALLENGE" OF MANPOWER SHORTAGE

The STC described a shortage of manpower in the sector - where there are about 40,000 resident security officers employed by 265 security agencies as of October - as a "perennial challenge", despite efforts to improve wages and working conditions of officers.

"While supply of active private security officers has increased over time, this shortfall persists due to manpower requirements of new buildings and COVID-19 safe management measures," it said. 

The STC said it was essential that the industry takes a longer-term view and optimise manpower. 

"Thus, it is timely and necessary to review the Security PWM as a way to effect bolder changes that the industry requires," it added. 

In line with the industry's intention to eventually move towards a 44-hour work week  - while ensuring security officers do not experience a fall in gross wages - the STC proposed that baseline wages for these officers should include wages paid for work done in addition to the regular work week, and the basic wage for the rank of Security Officer be increased to S$2,650.

"This will assure security officers of sustainable wage growth without needing to clock in excessive hours for a higher gross wage," it said. 

The STC noted that from 2024, this would allow all security officers to cross the current S$2,600 monthly basic wage threshold for coverage under Part IV of the Employment Act, which provides basic protection on hours of work, rest days and other conditions of service. 

It added that security officers would then be able to negotiate for better employment terms, such as regular working hours, with their employers.

"As an added measure to safeguard the security officers’ welfare under the new wage schedule, the STC recommends that a maximum cap of 72 hours a month in extra hours is set above the 44-hour work week," it said. 

This would be enforced as part of the Security PWM, it said, which is already a licensing condition under the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department's licensing regime for private security agencies and security officers.

"This will ensure all security officers are fit to discharge their duties in a professional and competent manner," said the STC.

The STC also suggested that the Government consider providing transitional wage support to help the industry mitigate the cost impact brought on by PWM wage increases and that service providers invest in technology and explore "job re-design" or other ways to improve productivity and service outcomes. 

BOLDER STEPS

NTUC assistant director-general Zainal Sapari said the security industry continues to be "plagued by long working hours, ageing workforce and low productivity".

Mr Zainal, who chairs the STC, said it is imperative the sector takes "bolder steps" to transform into one that is "efficient, technology-enabled and able to attract a younger workforce".

"We want to see a future where our security officers can take full advantage of technologies, become more productive in their jobs, earn more while having more time to rest, and progress in their careers," he said. 

"The recommendations serve to make this a reality, with key suggestions and proposed interventions that we hope will make a marked difference in industry transformation efforts.”

STC member Raj Joshua Thomas said that the shortage of manpower in the industry had been a long-standing issue, which had only worsened each year due to an increasing demand for security services.

Mr Thomas, who is president of the Security Association Singapore, said the recommendations would help make security a more viable and attractive profession.

"With more officers staying in and entering the security workforce, security agencies will be better able to take up contracts and service clients without shortfall or resorting to illegal or unfair practices," he said. 

In a joint release on Friday morning, the Ministry of Manpower and the Home Affairs Ministry said the Government accepted the STC's recommendations. 

The two ministries noted the recommendations would better support tripartite efforts to transform the security industry under the Security Industry Transformation Map, which was introduced in 2018. 

"Overall, the STC’s recommendations are timely and will augment tripartite efforts to uplift lower-wage workers and transform the security industry," they said.

"Government agencies will work closely with tripartite partners to implement the recommendations and create more meaningful careers for security officers, increase productivity, and improve security outcomes in a sustainable manner."

Source: CNA/az(ac)

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