Cleaning Businesses To Be Licensed Within Five Months Of The Environment Public Health (Amendment) Bill Coming Into Force [Press Release]
Singapore, 24 January 2014 – The Environmental Public Health (EPH) Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament on 20 January 2014. Under the provisions of the bill, cleaning businesses in Singapore will have to be licensed within five months of the provisions coming into force, which is expected to be in April 2014.
2 The licensing regime will require cleaning businesses to have mandatory written employment contracts, to provide training and to implement the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in order to ensure that cleaners receive wages that commensurate with their skills, training and productivity. An estimated 55,000 resident cleaners will benefit from these requirements.
3 Businesses offering cleaning services at premises or any public places will need to be licensed with the exception of those that offer specialised cleaning works. [Refer to Annex A for the exemption list and Annex B for the proposed licensing requirements.] Cleaning businesses will have to be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) Singapore or the Registry of Societies (ROS), and demonstrate relevant experience. New start-ups may provide documentation to indicate employment of at least one employee with a minimum of two years of practical experience in supervising cleaning work, or has attended the requisite Environmental Cleaning (EC) Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training modules. [Refer to Annex C for the EC WSQ framework.]
Progressive Wage Model
4 The Commissioner for Labour (COL) will specify the level of progressive wages based on the recommendations of the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC). More details to help cleaning businesses comply with this licensing condition will be released after the Bill is passed. [Refer to Annex D for information about the TCC and further information on the proposed licensing condition relating to progressive wages.]
5 Since November 2012, companies who have enrolled in the voluntary Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme have been required to pay progressive wages to their cleaners based on the PWM recommended by the TCC. This requirement will become compulsory on all companies in order to level the playing field.
6 To be licensed, businesses will have to factor in the PWM when tendering for new contracts or renewing existing contracts, and pay resident cleaners no less than what is reflected in the PWM. For existing service contracts (i.e. awarded before the provisions in the EPH (Amendment) Bill come into force), businesses will have until 1 September 2015 to transit to the new regime. Businesses will, however, be encouraged to start paying progressive wages earlier.
7 With the PWM requirement incorporated in the licensing regime, resident cleaners from all cleaning businesses can have the assurance of a pathway to higher wages as they become better skilled, more productive and take on higher responsibilities. Service buyers and consumers stand to enjoy better cleaning services and standards. Cleaning businesses will have to make the necessary improvements to employment standards to attract and retain the manpower they need in the current tight labour market.
8 Cleaning businesses should have at least 50 per cent of their staff trained in at least one module within the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA) WSQ EC framework at the point of first application. At the time of licence renewal, 100 per cent of their staff should be trained. Cleaning businesses will be advised to continue to send their staff for training to build a better skilled workforce and boost overall standards and capabilities necessary to sustain higher wages in the cleaning industry.
9 Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive of WDA said, “In preparation for the licensing of cleaning contractors, WDA has been working with our training partners since mid-2012 to ramp up training capacities. Funding is also available to support the training of resident cleaners. The Government has set aside a $9.8 million grant to train 33,000 local cleaners in EC WSQ over two years. We expect training demand to intensify in the coming months and would urge cleaning contractors not to delay in sending their workers for training.”
Penalties for Non-compliant Cleaning Businesses
10 Under the provisions of the Bill, cleaning businesses found operating without a valid licence will be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment or both and $1,000 every day for continuing offences. Service buyers who engage unlicensed cleaning businesses will also be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and $1,000 every day for continuing offences. [Refer to Annex E for details on the proposed penalty regime.] Licensed cleaning businesses found to be in breach of licensing conditions may also face a maximum financial penalty of $5,000 and may risk having their licence suspended or revoked. [Refer to Annex F for details on the proposed conditions of licence.]
11 NEA’s Chief Executive Officer, Ronnie Tay said, “The cleaning industry is large and fragmented, and characterised by cheap-sourcing practices which have discouraged wage, skills and productivity improvements. High attrition of cleaners also makes it difficult to attract and retain staff. The new licensing regime will incentivise businesses to improve standards and productivity, and also help to enhance the professionalism and image of the cleaning industry.”
 Source: MOM Comprehensive Labour Force Survey, 2012. Figures for 2013 are not yet available.
Source and Annexes: NEA