Cleaners used to be one of the lowest-paid jobs in Singapore with no prospects to earn more. All that changed with the Progressive Wage Model.
Introduced in 2012, Singapore’s Progressive Wage Model is a skill and productivity-based approach to redesigning jobs and restructuring wages in a sustainable way. It is mandatory in the cleaning industry since 2015. The model provides a clear career progression pathway, enabling workers to earn better wages with better work prospects as they become better skilled and more productive.
Meet Madam Bibi Mohamad.
The 60-year-old started work at a young age. Through much grit and perseverance, she has carved out a career in the cleaning sector.
Mdm Bibi started out as a general cleaner and rose through the ranks over the years, becoming a team leader in 2016. Today, she is a multi-skilled cleaner cum machine operator. Using a ride-on machine for cleaning floors has enabled her to do her job efficiently and safely compared to a mop and pail. What a long way Mdm Bibi has come.
What makes the difference? Attitude! What Madam Bibi possesses is a very positive attitude towards her job, always striving to improve herself. She is happy to learn new skills which make her job more productive and less strenuous. Good for her and good for her employer! The new knowledge that she has acquired through various up-skilling courses has given her new confidence in taking on higher-order work such as operating specialised machinery including ride-on scrubbers and marble polishers.
Mdm Bibi said, “I told myself that I had to learn more and upgrade my skills. Although I was a bit afraid at the beginning of whether I could cope with the training, my supervisor told me to go for it and try it out. I am glad I did, and it was actually quite fun.”
Through the courses, she has taken she also picked up soft skills. She is now better able to meet her client’s expectations as well as respond to more complex cleaning requirement.
“Every time I learn something new, I feel great. Initially, I did wonder how I would cope. But after a while, with the guidance of the instructor, I realised that I could understand the training, and slowly step by step, I will get it right,” she said.
At the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic
As a cleaner, Mdm Bibi, together with her colleagues, is on the frontline in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her colleagues had to intensify their cleaning frequency. They were also trained to perform disinfection at high-touch areas. Being on the frontline and as an essential services worker, she takes this all in her stride and counts this as a small part to play to protect the public.
Asked if she enjoys her work, she immediately replied, “Yes, of course! When I see everything is clean, I feel very good. Sometimes, people will walk to me and tell me ‘thanks’, and I feel so happy that I have done my job well.”
Higher wages to look forward to!
From 1 July 2020 (last year), all PWM basic wage will see a 3% year-on-year increase till 2022. Cleaners must be paid according to the PWM Monthly Basic Wage Levels for their respective job roles. Part-time resident cleaners must be paid according to a pro-rated PWM Monthly Basic Wage.
New role created: restroom cleaner
From 1 July 2021, a new job role of “Restroom Cleaners” will be added to the PWM Wage Ladder across all three sub-sectors (Office & Commercial, F&B establishments, Conservancy) and will be pegged to the wage level of “Healthcare Cleaner”.
From Jan 2020, cleaners who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months at the point of PWM Bonus computation will receive a PWM Bonus of no less than 2 weeks’
basic monthly wage. The PWM Bonus is to be paid at least once but not more than twice a year.
With the Progressive Wage Model, workers not only get paid the basic minimum wage, but they can also avoid wage stagnation through skill-training and a clear career path to move upwards.