Around 17,000 lower-wage workers in the food services industry can expect higher wages and a structured career pathway with the launch of the Progressive Wage Model for the sector.
The Tripartite Cluster for Food Services Industry (TCF) released its recommendations for the Food Services PWM on 15 February 2023 at Furama City Centre. NTUC chairs the TCF.
The Government accepted the recommendations on the same day.
The PWM targets the lowest rung of food services jobs.
These include food/drink stall assistants, kitchen assistants, food service counter attendants, cooks, waiters, and waiter supervisors.
The model will cover around 41,000 full- and part-time resident food services workers when it takes effect on 1 March 2023.
A learning journey to the hotel’s Tiffany Café and Restaurant took place at the PWM launch event.
Representatives of the TCF from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) joined the learning journey to have a closer look at the operations of a food services company.
Attendees included TCF Chair and NTUC U SME Director Yeo Wan Ling and Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad.
Ms Yeo said: “As the food services industry is highly competitive, employers and employees alike need to deliver good and consistent quality of food and services despite the demanding working conditions. The current tight labour market also adds to the challenges faced by them.
“Through today’s Progressive Wage Model, we want to give recognition to our food services workers for their hard work and ultimately uplift their wages, welfare and work prospects. This will also benefit employers when their workforce is skilled, motivated and stays with the company.”
The PWM proposed a three-year wage increase schedule from 1 March 2023 to 28 February 2026.
Due to the diverse nature of the food services sector, the PWM will impact two categories of workers.
Category A refers to workers stationed in quick-service (QS) food establishments and ready-to-eat stations in supermarkets.
Category B applies to those employed by full-service (FS) food establishments, caterers and central kitchens.
For example, a food/drink stall assistant under Category A can look forward to a minimum starting PWM baseline gross wage (excluding overtime payment) of $1,750.
Meanwhile, a kitchen assistant in an FS food establishment under Category B will take home a slightly higher amount of $1,850.
Eligible resident workers in both categories can expect an annual wage increment of $165 from 1 March 2023.
Ms Yeo explained that a fixed quantum rather than a percentage increase was used to make a more substantial commitment to the large numbers of lower-wage workers.
She said: “One of the numbers that came out was how we have 26,000 resident full-time workers in the food services industry, of which 17,000 are lower-wage workers.
“Because of this, we felt that there was a need for us to really help our lowest-paid workers. Therefore, the fixed quantum was something we looked at.
“On average, we are looking at up to 9 per cent increase in wages with the introduction of the PWM.”
Employers can also include variables like allowances and bonuses in gross wages.
To ensure that workers are fairly renumerated for overtime (OT) work, employers must pay baseline gross wages corresponding to the number of OT hours the worker clocks.
Under the PWM, workers will also be sufficiently trained to do well in their jobs.
The PWM recommended that workers complete at least two Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications training modules based on their job roles.
For example, those involved in direct food or beverage handling in Singapore Food Agency licensed food establishments must complete the mandatory Food Safety Course Level 1, among other courses.
The TCF also mapped out different career progression pathways for both categories of workers to attract and retain talents within the sector.
Food/Drink Stall Assistant => Kitchen Assistant (QS)/ Food Service Counter Attendant => Cook (QS) => Senior Cook
To allow food services businesses to adjust to the new PWM requirements, the TCF proposed a six-month implementation “run-in” period from 1 March to 31 August 2023.
Businesses can also tap on initiatives such as the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme to co-fund wage increases from 2022 to 2026.
To enforce the PWM in the sector, MOM will make it mandatory for employers to comply with PWM requirements to apply for new work passes or renew existing ones.