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41,000 food services workers set to benefit from Singapore's new progressive wage recommendations

41,000 food services workers set to benefit from Singapore's new progressive wage recommendations

These include an annual wage increment of S$165 to the PWM Baseline Gross Wages, for eligible workers, between 1 March 2024 to 28 February 2026.

About 41,000 food services employees in Singapore are set to benefit from a new Progressive Wage Model (PWM) recommendations, which will take effect from 1 March 2023. 

Released by the Tripartite Cluster for Food Services (TCF) Industry, chaired by NTUC and co-chaired by SNEF, on 15 February (Tuesday), the recommendations outline the wage and career progression as well as training for food/drink stall assistants, kitchen assistants, food service counter attendants, cooks, waiters, and waiter supervisors. They were accepted by the Government on Tuesday

As shared by the tripartite members, the PWM will apply to full-time and part-time resident (i.e. Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) food services employees on a contract of service, working in a premise that has an SFA Food Retail or Food Processing (Central Kitchen) licence, and employed by a firm that hires foreign workers on mainstream work passes (i.e. Work Permit, S Pass, Employment Pass).

Key recommendations of the PWM include:

  • Sustainable wage increases: from 1 March 2023 to 28 February 2026
  • Better skills: minimum training requirements for all food services PWM job roles
  • Better work prospects: a clear career progression pathway

These are detailed below.

Sustainable wage increases: from 1 March 2023 to 28 February 2026

Under the recommendations of the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers (TWG-LWW), in order to narrow the wage gap of lower-wage workers and to stay competitive and sustainable in the long run, the TCF recommends the following:

  1. Wage recommendations are split into food establishments categories:
    • Category A for Quick-Service (QS) Food Establishments and Supermarkets (ready-to-eat stations),
      priya feb 2023 pwmfoodservices ntuc snef pressrelease provided
    • Category B for Full-Service (FS) Food Establishments, Caterers, and Central Kitchens;
      priya feb 2023 pwmfoodservices catb ntuc snef pressrelease provided
  2. An annual wage increment of S$165 to the PWM Baseline Gross Wages (excluding overtime payment) for the period of 1 March 2024 to 28 February 2026, to applicable resident workers in the food services sector.
  3. There will be a six-month implementation "run-in period" to allow employers to understand and adhere to the PWM requirements, from 1 March 2023 to 31 August 2023, applicable to food services employers that hire foreign manpower.
  4. PWM Wages are expressed in gross terms to give employers the flexibility to incorporate all variable wage components (e.g. meal, transport allowances) to meet the stipulated gross wages.
  5. Safeguarding the interest of full-time workers’ overtime pay by setting different gross wage thresholds to correspond to the OT hours worked in a month.

Better skills: minimum training requirements for all food services PWM job roles

On top of training to pick up new skills, workers involved in the direct handling and preparation of food and beverages in Singapore Food Agency (SFA) licensed food establishments are required to complete mandatory Food Safety Course Level 1.

Apart from that, the TCF recommends that all resident workers in the food services industry attain at least two Workforce Skills Qualifications training modules based on their job roles. This is with the exception of the highest job roles of senior cook and manager, for which the TCF recommends that training as per the recommended WSQ module list is encouraged, so as to give employers the flexibility to train these employees in senior positions according to their own business needs.

Taking reference from the Skills Framework for Food Services which was validated by the industry, the list of technical skills & competencies (TSC) was mapped to the critical job functions of each PWM job level to ensure relevance and that the appropriate skills proficiency levels are achieved. The TCF also encourages employers to consider incorporating the Framework's Critical Core Skills modules in their training plans.

It added: "The TCF is aware that employers who have attained in-house approved training organisation status have in place specific course curriculum to ensure their workers are trained in relevant modules which they could apply in their daily work. Hence, the TCF recommends that in-house WSQ modules with the prefix “FSS” in its TSC code be recognised as approved training modules under the FS PWM as well.

In addition, the TCF recommends that new hires or existing employees who had attained food services-related tertiary level certification or qualification such as from recognised culinary institutes or institutes of higher learning, or who were in WorkStudy programmes in food services-related courses, be deemed to have met PWM training requirements.

To give employers adequate time to comply with the training requirements for their employees, while balancing manpower resourcing needs, the following grace periods were shared:

  • For new hires: six months from the new hire’s date of employment
  • For existing employees: up till 29 February 2024 (one year from the Food Services PWM implementation on 1 March 2023)

More details on this can be found in Annex C of the report

Better work prospects: a clear career progression pathway

According to the tripartite members, as of June 2021, there are about 26,000 full-time resident employees in food services-related job roles in firms that employ foreign workers, of which about 17,000 are lower-wage workers. Given that part-time arrangements are common in the industry due to the nature of F&B operations, there are also about 15,000 part-time resident employees in these roles. In total, about 41,000 full-time and part-time resident employees are expected to be covered by the food services PWM.

To provide a clear career progression pathway for the existing workforce as well as to help attract new entrants, the TCF has mapped out differentiated career tracks in two categories, classified by the types of food establishments, as follows:

priya feb 2023 pwmfoodservices careerpathway ntuc snef pressrelease provided

The job duties and responsibilities of the various PWM job roles are detailed in Annex B of the report

Speaking at the launch of the recommendations, Andrew Tjioe, SNEF representative, shared that given the wide range of establishments in the sector, from quick-service to full-service restaurants, "a differentiated approach is required for the PWM and career progression."

With clear training and competencies requirements, SNEF also encouraged workers in the sector  to take ownership to map out their career goals. In addition, it noted that the scheduled wage increase is "ambitious and would add significant wage costs for employers, on top of rising business costs", thus urging employers to "press on with productivity improvements to ensure that the wage increases can be sustainable."

The Tripartite Cluster for Food Services Industry (TCF) was formed in March 2021 and comprises industry stakeholders representing the diverse sub-sectors within the industry, union, and relevant government agencies.

Image / Provided by NTUC

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