Security guards exempted from overtime limit?


For how long has the security industry’s overtime limit exemption been in force?

I refer to the article “Basic pay for security officers to go up by $300 over next 3 years, limit on overtime hours” (Straits Times, Nov 23).

It states that “Security officers will be paid more while working fewer overtime hours each month in future.

They will see their basic pay go up by around $300 over the next three years, and also receive an annual increment of at least 3 per cent in the three years after that, under recommendations the Government accepted on Thursday (Nov 23).

In respect of “All security officers will be allowed to put in a maximum of only 72 overtime (OT) hours a month” – isn’t this just a marginal improvement from the current 95 hours?

As to “The current practice – in which security companies apply for OT exemptions so their employees can work past this limit – will be discontinued from 2021” – why must it take another three years to discontinue this “slave hours” work routine?

“The higher basic pay and subsequent annual increments are intended to offset the cap on OT hours.

Security agencies must adopt the new recommendations from Jan 1, 2019.

In June 2016, the median basic wage of full-time security officers was $1,300.

With the changes, security officers will see a total increase of $300 to basic monthly wages under the progressive wage model by 2021, and a total increase of $285 for those in senior ranks over the same period.

Wages should rise by $75 a month in 2019 and the same amount in 2020, followed by a $150 raise in monthly wages in 2021.”

As to “The STC said the higher increments are to ensure security officers’ gross wages will not be “adversely affected due to a reduction in overtime hours”” – does it mean that the gross wages may end up being the same as now – with the increment just offsetting the reduction in overtime wages?

With regard to “the security sector has the highest average weekly overtime per worker, according to a 2014 report by the STC, which first mooted removing OT exemptions in 2014. Security officers clock as many as 95 hours of overtime each month” – can you imagine working about 72 hours a week – every week – which I understand may be the norm.

Also, why are security officers in a sense being discriminated – by giving their industry this overtime exemption?

For how many years has this been going on? – And I believe this may never have been reported in the media.

Leong Sze Hian



About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.