Why the Progressive Wage Model benefits workers more in the long term

The debate about having a Minimum Wage (MW) for lower wage workers has been ongoing for some time. Actually, not many people are aware that there has been a Progressive Wage Model (PWM) in place all this while.

It is a wage ladder that creates wage increment for workers


Although it sounds less exciting compared to MW, the PWM is one that sees long term growth for workers. It is a wage ladder that aims to uplift the wages of lower wage workers. This means that there is a chance for workers to work towards a pay increase, rather than being ‘stuck’ at a minimum or fixed wage forever.

It gives an opportunity to earn more than what a minimum wage would

The commonly proposed minimum wage for Singapore to have was $1300. As we can see from the diagram above, the PWM for the cleaning sector has exceeded the proposed minimum wage amount. In addition, there is real potential for a cleaner to continually earn much more than $1300 in future!

It motivates workers to upskill and upgrade themselves


The PWM is designed such that each pay increment is tied to skills and productivity. This means that workers have to improve themselves, upskill and earn their way “up the ladder” so to speak. Employers will also be encouraged to send their workers for training so that they have opportunities to pick up relevant and useful skills. This allows workers to have structured career progression opportunities and a more fulfilling career.


It is a sustainable way to give workers the pay increment they need


Everyone wants a pay increment and higher salary (myself included, hehe). However, your boss has to agree that you deserve the higher salary before it can happen. Likewise for our lower wage workers, they have to convince their bosses that they too deserve a pay increment for the work that they produce.

One way in which they can do so is by upskilling and increasing their productivity. This shows employers that they are keen to be better at their work and hence deserve the pay raise. As they upskill and produce better work, they will also attract more recognition from consumers who appreciate their work.

An example of this would be the outpouring of appreciation and recognition for our cleaners’ work during COVID-19. Not only have they risked their safety by being at the frontline, they also had to handle heavier workloads and more frequent cleaning, hence showing that they deserving of a pay raise.


Of course, for this to work, consumers must play a part too! We can do this by being willing to pay more for the service that these workers offer us. After all, verbal acknowledgement is not good enough! We have to show them through our wallets and actions that we truly value their work.

Spotlight on our cleaners, security officers, and other ‘invisible’ workers

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