Singapore

Specialised cleaning firms exempted from licensing regime for now

Specialised cleaning firms exempted from 
      licensing regime for now
A cleaning employee clearing plates at a food court. Under the system, cleaning companies must pay an entry-level salary of S$1,000 each month, up from the current median gross monthly wage of about S$850 and subsequently give increments in tandem with skills upgrading. Today File Photo
Others must be licensed within five months from April, when proposed changesto Act will come into effect
Published: 4:03 AM, January 25, 2014

SINGAPORE — Firms that offer domestic cleaning services, including part-time housecleaning, will be exempted from the mandatory licensing regime that will soon cover the cleaning industry. Those who clean swimming pools, large structures such as fountains, statues, tourist attractions, as well as animal enclosures will also be exempted.

Announcing the exemptions yesterday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said cleaning businesses will have to be licensed withinfive months from April, when proposed changes to the Environmental Public Health Act come into force. Amendments to the Act were tabled in Parliament on Monday by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources.

The licensing regime will require cleaning businesses to have mandatory written employment contracts, provide training and implement a tiered wage system, known as the Progressive Wage Model. Under the system, cleaning companies must pay an entry-level salary of S$1,000 each month, up from the current median gross monthly wage of about S$850, and subsequently give increments in tandem with skills upgrading.

Those who are trained to handle cleaning machines will earn at least S$1,400 and a supervisor will get S$1,600. An estimated 55,000 local cleaners are expected to benefit from the change.

An NEA spokesperson yesterday said specialised cleaning firms are exempted from the new licensing regime for now, as the focus is on raising the cleaning standards and professionalism of the general cleaning industry. “Cleaners engaged to perform specialised cleaning jobs are generally already better skilled than their counterparts,” she added.

The NEA also said licensed cleaning companies will have to factor in the Progressive Wage Model when tendering for new contracts or renewing contracts. For contracts awarded before changes to the Act come into force, businesses will have until September next year to transit to the new regime. “Businesses will, however, be encouraged to start paying progressive wages earlier,” the NEA said.

A person who operates a cleaning business without a licence may be fined up to S$10,000 and jailed for 12 months. Those who engage the cleaning services of unlicensed persons may also be fined up to S$10,000 upon conviction, unless they could prove “on a balance of probabilities” that they did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the contractor did not hold a valid cleaning business licence.

Cleaning firms will also have to ensure that at least 50 per cent of their staff are trained in at least one module within the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s Workforce Skills Qualifications Environmental Cleaning framework at the point of application. All staff should be trained at the time of licence renewal, the NEA said.