Progressive Wage Model: How Much Will Singapore Employers Have To Pay Their Workers

Singapore’s Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is similar to a minimum income. In the past, the government agreed that the Progressive Wage Model was “on the same page” as the minimum wage – and can be thought of as “minimum wage plus”.

While progressive wages only apply to particular sectors, the government’s aspiration is also for every sector of the economy to have some form of Progressive Wages. Over the years, the PWM has been extended to more sectors, and certain occupations have also come under the PWM regardless of which sector the business is in.

This was part of 18 recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup to Uplift Wages and Well-Being of Lower-Wage Workers that the government accepted. Among the list of recommendations was to extend Progressive Wages for in-house cleaning, security and landscaping employees. Previously, only cleaners, security officers and landscape workers of licenced or registered cleaning, security and landscape benefitted from coverage under the PWM.

What Is The Progressive Wage Model (PWM)?

The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) was developed to uplift low-wage Singaporean and Permanent Resident (PR) workers in Singapore. It is currently applicable to seven sectors, as well as two occupations cutting across all sectors:

#1 Cleaning sector (from 1 Nov 2014)

#2 Security sector (from 1 Sep 2016)

#3 Landscaping sector (from 30 Jun 2016)

#4 Lift and escalator maintenance sector (from 1 Sep 2022)

#5 Retail sector (from 1 Sep 2022)

#6 Food Services sector (from 1 Mar 2023)

#7 Waste Management sector (from 2023)

#8 Occupation: Administrative Assistants (from 1 Mar 2023)

#9 Occupation: Drivers (from 1 Mar 2023)

These sectors and occupations typically have stagnant wages mainly due to cheap sourcing of labour. The Progressive Wage Model works to benefit workers in these sectors and occupations by clearly mapping out a career pathway for their wages to increase. This is usually done alongside training and skills improvements.

A Progressive Wage (PW) Mark and PW Mark Plus accreditation has also been introduced to recognise companies that pay their workers a minimum wage. The accreditation can act as a signal to consumers and other businesses that you are paying your employees a decent wage. The public sector will take the lead by only purchasing from businesses with the PW Mark.

Read Also: Why Giving Your Employees A Pay Raise Doesn’t Always Have To Be Bad For Your Business Profitability

Progressive Wage Model For The Cleaning Sector

The PWM for cleaners covers all Singaporeans and PRs employed in outsourced cleaning jobs since 2014. From 1 September 2022, in-house cleaners are also covered by PWM. Cleaning companies must meet the PWM requirements to obtain or renew their licences from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

There are three main groups of workers in the cleaning sector.

Group 1Office and commercial sites – e.g. offices, schools, hospitals, medical clinics, condominiums
Group 2Food and  beverage (F&B) establishments – e.g. hawker centres, food courts, restaurants
Group 3Conservancy – e.g. town councils, public cleansing

A PWM Bonus of at least 2 weeks of basic monthly wages is payable to employees in a given year from 2020 onwards. It is also recommended for team leaders to be paid an additional wage starting from $100 more as they handle more responsibilities.

The cleaning sector will see sustained base salary increases yearly until 2029. There is also a clear progression path for workers in the industry. This will come along with mandatory training requirements under the Skills Framework for Environmental Services.

Here is how their wages should increase:

Source: NTUC

Here’s how the progression path looks like from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2024:

Progressive Wage Model (Cleaning Sector) 2023 to 2024
Source: MOM

For in-house cleaners, businesses can also refer to the PWM Ladder:

Progressive Wage Model for in-house cleaners (2023 to 2024)
Source: MOM

Progressive Wage Model For The Security Sector

Since 2016, the Progressive Wage Model covered all Singaporeans and PRs employed as security officers by licenced security agencies. Adhering to the PWM is a licencing condition for security agencies under the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department (PLRD). From 1 September 2022, in-house security personnel are also covered.

The PWM for security officers work to equip such employees with the skills to carry out their jobs, and they are paid wages that correspond to their skills and productivity improvements.

From 1 January 2020, security officers will have to be paid the following wages, in tandem with the improvement of their skills. Even without promotion, the salary of security officers will increase a minimum of 3% per annum each year under the current Progressive Wage Model.

Read Also: How Much Can You Earn As An Auxiliary Police Or Security Officer In Singapore

The security sector has a five-level career progression model. Here’s how the career progression for each level looks like:

Progressive Wage Model For The Landscape Sector

Since 30 June 2016, the PWM for landscape maintenance employees covered all Singaporeans and PRs employed in outsourced landscape maintenance jobs. Adhering to the PWM is a registration condition for NParks’ Landscape Company Register (LCR). From 1 September 2022, in-house landscaping workers are also covered under the PWM.

In the landscape sector, there is a 4-level career progression ladder. Progressive wages are set at each level, and it requires specific training by the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification for Landscape (Landscape WSQ).

A PWM Bonus of at least 2 weeks of basic monthly wages is payable to employees in a given year from 2020 onwards.

PWM for Landscape sector (2023 to 2028)
Source: MOM

The four-level career progression model follows this trajectory:

PWM for Landscaping sector
Source: MOM

Progressive Wage Model For The Lift & Escalator Sector

From 1 September 2022, the PWM also apply to workers in the lift & escalator sector, as well as in-house employees.

With half of the workers within the lift & escalator sector expected to retire in less than 15 years, the sector became the fourth to come into the Progressive Wage Model in 2018 – initially under a voluntary model.

Read Also: Retirement And Re-Employment Act: What Employers Need To Know About Retaining Older Workers

This will benefit close to 1,300 lift and escalator technicians, and ensure that skill levels remain high and that we manage to keep a Singaporean core within the sector. Notwithstanding this,

Providing a clear career progression flow will encourage existing workers to upskill as well as attract new talent. from Assistant Specialist performing maintenance work under supervision to splitting between Supervisory roles and becoming a Principal Specialist.

Each year, the PWM ensures workers in the field receives a raise of between $130 and $225. The lowest paid workers in the field can also expect their wage to grow at about 8.9%, while higher paid workers will also see their wages increasing 4.4%.

PWM for lift and escalator sector
Source: MOM

On top of yearly wage increments, workers in the field will also be provided a PWM Bonus of no less than one month of the worker’s prevailing basic monthly wage. This is meant to attract and retain talent in the sector.

A career and skills ladder – under either a specialist track or supervisory track – also provides workers in the sector a clear progression path they can follow.

Source: NTUC

Progressive Wage Model For The Retail Sector

From 1 September 2022, the PWM applies to employees in the retail sector. According to the Tripartite Cluster for Retail Industry on Introducing Progressive Wage Model for the Retail Sector’s report, there are about 34,000 full-time resident employees in the job roles of Shop Sales Assistant, Cashier and Sales Supervisor in firms that hire foreign workers across all industries, as of June 2021. Out of which 19,000 are lower-wage workers who would benefit from better career advancement and progressive wages. These firms also hire about 12,000 part-time resident retail employees.

The PWM will cover Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are:

  • Full-time or part-time employees in retail job roles on a contract of service and
  • Employed by firms which hire foreign workesrs, regardless of whether the firm is classified under the Retail Trade Singapore Standard Industrial Classification (SSIC) or another SSIC.

The PWM for the retail sector will cover the retail job roles of Cashier, Retail Assistant, Senior Cashier, Senior Retail Assistant, Assistant Retail Supervisor, Retail Supervisor and Retail Manager. As different companies may have different job titles for the same role, MOM has also set out the duties and responsibilities for each job role.

Under the retail PWM, lower wage workers will see an 8.4% to 8.5% increase in their base pay (excluding overtime). The roles of retail manager and retail supervisor are left to market forces, though this may change in future reviews.

PWM for retail sector 2023
Source: MOM

As many retail workers also work overtime, employers need to adhere to the additional PWM gross wage requirements for overtime. This would apply to full-time workers who work more than 44 hours a week and are covered by the Employment Act’s Part 4. This is on top of the existing Employment Act’s requirements for overtime, where the overtime rate of pay must be at least 1.5 times of the basic rate of pay.

Given the seasonal fluctuations in sales revenue for the retail sector, the wage requirements for retail employees covered under retail PWM can be averaged over a 3-month period. Details on the averaging arrangement are illustrated in the report’s Annex D. Employers will fulfill the PWM wage requirements as long as:

  • Gross wages paid for a month is equal or higher than that month’s PWM wage requirements (including any applicable overtime pay) or
  • The past 3 months’ average gross wage is equal to or higher than the average of past 3 month’s wage requirements

Similar to PWM for other sectors, there are also training requirements for retail PWM to help them increase productivity and provide good retail experiences to customers. Retail workers covered under PWM need to meet the retail PWM training requirements of attending at least 1 Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) training module out of the list of approved courses (Annex C of report).

To help employers adjust and comply to the PWM requirements, MOM gave 6 months’ run-in period from 1 September 2022 to 28 February 2023. During this period, MOM will focus on educating and helping employers understand and adhere to the new PWM requirements without enforcement. Employers who do not comply in this period will not have their Work Pass privileges suspended. However, if they underpay the mandated Retail PWM wages, they should make up for the shortfall, as well as the corresponding CPF contributions.

From 1 March 2023 onwards, non-compliance may be met with enforcement measures (such as suspension of Work Pass privileges) if employers fail to take appropriate rectification actions within a reasonable timeframe.

Progressive Wage Model For The Food Services Sector

The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the Food Services sector began on 1 March 2023. Today, there are about 33,000 full-time low-wage workers in the Food Services sector.

PWM will cover job roles such as:

Category A, covering Quick-Service (QS) food establishments, such as fast-food outlets, food courts, food kiosks, and eating houses where customers self-collect food or drink orders from food service counters, as well as supermarkets with ready-to-eat food stations

  • Food / Drink Stall Assistant
  • Food Service Counter Attendant
  • Kitchen Assistant (QS)
  • Cook (QS)
  • Senior Cook (QS)
PWM for food services sector (Category A)
Source: MOM

Category B, covering Full-Service (FS) food establishments, which are establishments that have wait staff such as waiters or banquet servers and are not under Category A, as well as caterers and central kitchens

  • Kitchen Assistant (FS)
  • Cook (FS)
  • Senior Cook
  • Waiter
  • Waiter Supervisor
  • Manager
PWM for food services sector (Category B)
Source: MOM

There will also be minimum training requirements for such employees, such as Food Hygiene certification.

Progressive Wage Model For The Waste Sector

The Progressive Wage Model also extended to the waste sector from 1 July 2023. Up to 3,000 local workers in the Waste Management sector will benefit from the PWM. 

The PWM will cover Waste Collection and Materials Recovery job scopes:

Waste Collection:

  • Crew
  • Senior Crew
  • Team Lead
  • Supervisor
  • Driver
  • Senior Driver
  • Captain
PWM for waste sector (Waste Collection job scope)

Materials Recovery:

  • Sorter
  • Senior Sorter
  • Machine Operator
  • Team Lead
  • Plant Supervisor
PWM for waste sector (Materials Recovery job scope)S
Source: MOM

From January 2024, at least 1 month of basic monthly wages is payable to eligible waste management workers in the waste collection and materials recovery sub-sectors in licensed general waste collectors, public waste collectors, or general waste disposal facilities every year.

Read Also: 10 Types Of Employee Payments (Apart From Salary) That Businesses Need To Pay CPF For

This new initiative will also see similar career progression pathways define in the sector for workers to upskill and ultimately earn better wages. A Tripartite Cluster for Waste Management (TCWM) has been formed to oversee the roll-out of PWM within the sector. This includes:

#1 Develop and periodically review the progressive wage model (PWM) for waste management workers, including the wages, wage ladders, training requirements and progression pathways;

#2 Develop strategies to support progression up the PWM career ladder, such that waste management workers’ wages can increase with better training, higher responsibilities and improvements in productivity and standards; 

#3 Monitor compliance with the PWM and its impact on the industry; and

#4 Review ways to improve working conditions of waste management workers.

Source: Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

Occupational Progressive Wage Model For Administrative Assistants And Drivers

The PWM has also been extended beyond sectors, to cover occupations. This started with two occupations – 1) Administrative Assistants and 2) Drivers – from 1 March 2023.

Unlike the Progressive Wage Model for sectors, there will not be standardised training requirements. This is because job scopes can be varied and employers would know best the type of training that would benefit their employees. As such, employers of occupational PW workers have the discretion to choose appropriate training courses – either one WSQ course or one in-house training programme. The aim remains to upskill and uplift wages.

Those working in administrative roles can expect to receive a floor wage of $1,500.

Occupational Progressive Wage (Administrators)
Source: MOM

Drivers can expect to receive a floor wage of $1,750.

Occupational Progressive Wage (Drivers)
Source: MOM

This article was first published on 3 February 2021 and has been updated with the latest extensions on Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the retail sector.

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