Security guards in Singapore can expect higher wages with fewer overtime hours each month ahead. Under recommendations accepted by the government on Thursday (Nov 23), they will receive an increase of around $300 between 2019 and 2021. After that, they will receive basic pay increment of at least 3 percent each year. All security officers will also be allowed to take a maximum of only 72 overtime hours in a month.
Current practice, that allows security companies apply for overtime exemptions to enable their employees work past this limit, will be discontinued from 2021. The higher basic salary and subsequent annual increments are made to counterbalance the cap on overtime hours. From Jan 1, 2019 all security agencies in the country are required to adopt the recommendations.
The details of proposals, compiled by the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC), were made to attract younger Singaporeans to the security sector as it is facing growing demand with more buildings and new infrastructure amidst the rising threat of terrorism.
STC chairman Zainal Sapari, assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, said that excessive working hours often become the commonest reason for security guards to leave the industry. Therefore, to attract young people or make it practical for older people to jump in the industry, there needs to be a move to reduce overtime hours. When implemented, the changes will benefit more than 34,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents working as security guards.
They follow a review of progressive wage model in the security industry, a wage ladder that aims to raise the salaries of low-wage workers through skills upgrade and improvements in productivity. It is obligatory for companies to have license in the cleaning, security, and landscape sectors to adopt the wage model. This will specify a starting wage of at least $1,100 a month for security guards, with salaries starting from $1,300 and more for those who are higher-skilled.
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According to STC, the pay for security officers have risen since 2014 when the wage model was first introduced. It became mandatory in September 2016. Between 2014 and last year, the median basic wage of full-time security guards has grown by 23 percent per year, Straits Times reports.
Report by the STC in 2014 noted that the security sector has the highest average figure of weekly overtime hours per worker, which then suggested removing overtime exemptions. Each officer clocks as many as 95 hours of overtime work each month. Current policy of overtime exemption is not given for certain types of work, such as those that require continuous and manual operation of machinery, or work at elevated heights.
The STC recommendation includes an increase of annual wage of at least 3 percent from 2022 to 2024. The increments will be subject to review, to ensure that security guards do not receive stagnant salary at the minimum level specified by the wage ladder. Additionally, security agencies are also urged to make early planning and work with their customers to review their operations and manpower needs. STC suggested companies to adopt technological solutions that can help reduce their reliance on manpower, but still allow them to keep premises secure.
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