Photo of elderly cleaner from Straits Times

Singapore’s ruling party PAP Government set the stage for General Election GE2020 by mandating that compulsory annual bonuses for local cleaners will only start from 2020. According to the government proposal under Progressive Wage Model, cleaners will only see a monthly wage increase of S$60 in July 2017, S$60 in 2018 and S$80 in 2019. The total will be S$200 wage increase by GE 2020.

There is however one trap: there is no mention how much the annual bonus would be. Although the typical annual bonus is a month’s salary, companies can give as low as S$100 as tokenism just to meet the government regulation. The quantum of annual wage increase determined today will also lose value depending on yearly inflation.

Currently, more than 40,000 Singaporean and permanent residents work as cleaners and their wages is only S$1,000/mth. This salary is only half of the 20 percentile household income of S$2,000, and elderly retirees make up the bulk of the poverty group.

The government proposal will only start from July 2017, and hence Singapore companies can continue to give the minimum S$1,000 salary to cleaners until then. Singapore has been seeing a decline in standard of living with the latest statistics showing a 7% increase in household poverty. Poverty is especially acute for Singapore elderly who are getting payout as low as S$300 a month from the CPF retirement fund.

Read: Elderly cardboard collector earns S$3 a day in Singapore