New rules kick in for cleaning companies

New rules kick in for cleaning companies

Most cleaners here will soon get a basic wage of at least $1,000 a month under new licensing rules for their employers.

These companies will come under a licensing scheme from today, which means they have to pay cleaners tiered wages using a salary ladder.

In February, Parliament passed changes to the Environmental Public Health Act which made licensing compulsory.

Yesterday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement that the new law will kick in today. But it is giving cleaning firms until July 15 to apply for the licences so that they can get them by Sept 1.

"Businesses are strongly encouraged to submit their applications early," said the NEA.

From September, firms that offer cleaning services without a licence may be fined up to $10,000 or get a jail term of up to 12 months. Those hiring unlicensed cleaning firms may also be fined up to $10,000.

But not all cleaning firms will come under the new law.

Specialised firms such as those that clean swimming pools and homes or remove construction debris from work sites will be exempt from the tighter measures to regulate the industry.

It is unclear how many cleaning firms there are in Singapore.

The authorities were unable to give a precise figure despite repeated queries by The Straits Times. Still, the latest move to raise wages is expected to benefit some 55,000 local cleaners, based on the Manpower Ministry's figures two years ago.

Under the compulsory wage ladder, all Singaporeans and permanent residents working as cleaners will get at least $1,000 each month. Those who handle cleaning machines will receive at least $1,400 and supervisors, $1,600.

Cleaning companies hope to get help in understanding the licensing conditions.

"I am not very sure what they want," said Mr Derek Tan, director of home-grown cleaning firm Gladen Maintenance Services, which hires about 80 cleaners.

"But I will definitely meet the deadline," he added.

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