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Cleaning Companies Encouraged to Adopt Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme

19 October 2012

  • Enhanced scheme to raise standards of cleaning industry through better employment practices and productivity initiatives, together with a new accreditation requirement on progressive wages
  • Government buyers taking the lead by procuring from only accredited cleaning companies
  • $6.1 million over 2-3 years committed to train and upgrade 7,800 cleaners with Environmental Cleaning WSQ
  1. The National Environment Agency (NEA) will roll out enhancements to the voluntary Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme from 1 November 2012. Changes include a requirement for accredited companies to pay their cleaners progressive wages that are commensurate with the higher productivity, standards and skills expected of accredited companies.

    Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme
  2. In July 2010, NEA introduced the voluntary Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme to recognise companies that deliver high standards of cleaning through the training of workers, use of equipment to improve work processes, and fair employment practices. Today, there are 61 service providers accredited by NEA with the Clean Mark Silver Award. [Please refer to Annex A for details on the Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme.]

    New Enhancements to the Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme
  3. To raise the overall standards and professionalism of the cleaning industry, the following are added to the accreditation criteria:

    a) Productivity
    To build and inculcate a culture of continuous productivity improvements, accredited companies will also be required to appoint a Productivity Manager. Productivity Managers will undergo a customised training programme emphasizing technology adoption and work process redesign, developed by NEA together with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

    b) Better Employment Standards
    Accredited companies are to i) attain bizSAFE1 level 1 for Clean Mark Silver and bizSAFE level 3 for Clean Mark Gold accreditation, ii) make salary payment through GIRO unless otherwise requested by workers, and iii) ensure they do not default on any Labour Court orders issued in the preceding 12 months of accreditation.

    c) Progressive Wage Model
    Accredited companies are required to pay their resident cleaners progressive wages that are commensurate with the higher productivity, standards and skills expected of accredited companies. This requirement will be based on the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) recommended by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC). This will provide a pathway for cleaners to progress to higher wages as they become better skilled, more productive or take on higher responsibilities. [Please refer to Annex B for details on the accreditation requirement relating to progressive wages.]

    Benefits of Enhanced Accreditation Scheme
  4. The enhanced Accreditation Scheme will help cleaning companies to put in place proper structures and systems, especially in the areas of human resources and training, as well as to push for greater productivity through mechanisation, automation and the redesign of work processes to allow companies to optimise their manpower. The scheme will also encourage the building of capacity at different levels through the training of cleaners, team leaders and supervisors.
  5. To complement the enhancements to the Clean Mark Accreditation scheme and raise the quality of cleaners in the industry, WDA has committed $6.1 million over 2 years to train and upgrade 7,800 cleaners for offices, shopping centres, schools and hawkers centres. This investment will provide cleaners with more training opportunities as well as encourage employers to send their staff for training. The training aims to equip cleaners with relevant knowledge to optimise their productivity for the cleaning industry and also enables cleaners to be certified with the Environmental Cleaning Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications.
  6. To help accommodate the growing capacity for training, WDA has appointed 3 more new training providers (ST (e-learning) Electronics, U-Training Centre and Training Masters Workforce Institute Pte Ltd) to run these programmes, on top of the existing two training providers (NTUC LearningHub and Center For Competency Based Learning). [Please refer to Annex C for more details on WDA's Environmental Cleaning WSQ and Assessment Only Pathway.]
  7. To further boost productivity in the sector, NEA has also worked with Environmental Management Association of Singapore (EMAS), NTUC's e2i and cleaning companies to develop a "common equipment list" that companies can refer to when seeking funding support to buy equipment to enhance productivity. A sum of $9 million has been set aside under e2i's Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) to this end. The IGP initiative is aimed at improving the skills and pay of low-wage workers through job redesign and improved work processes. [Please refer to Annex D for more details on the IGP.]
  8. As a buyer of cleaning services, NEA has been proactively working with service providers to source and test-bed suitable new equipment for cleaning of hawker centres and public areas, leveraging on IGP funding. One such example is the use of the "Billy Goat" vacuum sweeper which brings about a 30% productivity improvement of the cleaners. Cleaning contractors for hawker centres have also successfully obtained IGP funding to invest in equipment to improve productivity for cleaning works. [Please refer to Annex E for an example of one of the machines under the common equipment list that is demonstrated at the site today.]

    Government to Take the Lead
  9. The Government will take the lead to support the scheme by sourcing optimally and engaging only accredited companies for new cleaning contracts called from 1 April 2013. There are 55 public service organisations which are already buying cleaning services from accredited companies. The Government strongly encourages service buyers in the private sector to follow-suit to benefit from better cleaning standards and improved customer satisfaction. This is especially since, as announced earlier, the Government will eventually license all cleaning companies and cleaning companies that have embarked on the journey to accreditation will be better prepared.
  10. With regard to the existing contracts, NEA will work with other Government agencies to encourage their cleaning companies to work towards the EAS sooner rather than later. For street cleaning and expressway cleaning, NEA currently oversees 6 contracts with an annual contract value of $33.78 million. For the cleaning of MEWR hawker centres, NEA currently oversees 3 contracts with an annual value of $9.2 million. For a start, NEA will work with its cleaning contractors to facilitate them to be accredited under the EAS including the Progressive Wage Model for their cleaners. This will enable around 600 cleaners to enjoy higher wages before the contracts expire over the next two years.
  11. Mr Chan Beng Seng (Divisional Director, MOM) said, "Cheap sourcing in the cleaning industry can hold back wages even when productivity and standards improve. These enhancements will not only improve employment practices in the sector, but also improve the link between productivity and wages, helping cleaners receive a fairer wage. With better terms, cleaners will be more motivated to train and deliver higher standards and service to customers. Accredited cleaning companies will also be better able to attract and retain cleaners, and build up a well-trained and experienced cleaning workforce."
  12. Chief Executive Officer, NEA, Andrew Tan said, "The cleaning industry suffers from low wages, poor productivity and cheap sourcing. The enhancements to the Clean Mark accreditation scheme are therefore timely as it will help to raise the overall industry standards and efficiency with better skilled workers, who are paid wages that match their level of skills, training and deployability. These changes to the scheme will not only benefit the cleaners, but also service buyers and the public. As a responsible service buyer, NEA is taking the lead in this effort to procure from accredited companies for its cleaning contracts and we will encourage other service buyers to follow suit."

Download the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners report for more information.

1 bizSAFE is a capability building programme of the Workplace Safety and Health Council. It intended to assist companies to fulfil their obligations under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, to put in place risk management.