Cleaning Business Licence

Cleaning Business Licence FAQ

Background

1.      Why did NEA introduce a licensing scheme for the cleaning industry?

The cleaning business licensing scheme was introduced in September 2014 to impose higher standards of employment across the cleaning industry and lead to more professional and reliable services. From 1 January 2024, the enhanced scheme introduces new requirements for cleaning businesses to grow capabilities and improve workplace safety for their cleaning workforce.

2.      When were cleaning businesses required to pay progressive wages to their cleaners?

From 1 September 2015, all licensed cleaning businesses are required to pay progressive wages to all their resident cleaners (full-time, part-time, and casual inclusive). Non-compliant licensees will be subjected to penalties, which may include suspension or revocation of the licence.

Please note that the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) schedules are revised periodically. The government accepted the recommendation of the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) on the PWM wage points to be revised every July each year until 2029. A PWM Bonus is also required to be paid to eligible resident cleaners from 2020. For more information on the PWM, please refer to MOM’s website or the Order by the Commissioner for Labour.

Scope of Licensing

3.      If my company directly employs in-house cleaners to clean our premises, does my company need to be licensed? Does my company need to pay progressive wages to these in-sourced cleaners?

Companies employing in-house cleaners to clean their premises are not required to be licensed. However, the Progressive Wages have been extended to local in-house cleaners from September 2022 onwards. Please refer to MOM's website for more details.

4.      Do cleaning businesses providing housekeeping services need to be licensed?

Cleaning businesses providing housekeeping services to hotels, hostels, serviced apartments and other premises or public places are required to be licensed. Cleaning businesses providing domestic cleaning services at premises occupied as a private residence (but not including any common property of any condominium) do not need to be licensed.

5.      If my business is providing cleaning services on an ad-hoc basis, does my business need to be licensed?

Any cleaning business offering non-domestic general cleaning services such as office cleaning, carpet cleaning, upholstery cleaning, on-site dishwashing, and cleaning of condominium common areas is required to be licensed. This is regardless if the services are provided on an ad-hoc basis or a term contract basis.

6.      How is licensing different from Clean Mark accreditation?

Licensing sets the entry-level standards for cleaning businesses, while accreditation which comprises more stringent criteria, aims to improve the quality of services provided by cleaning businesses.

7.      My company is providing cleaning services for vehicles such as cars, taxis, and cruise ships. Does my company need to be licensed?

Companies providing vehicle (including watercraft) cleaning services are not required to be licensed.

8.      My company was set up to provide disinfection services only. Does my company need to be licensed?

Companies need to apply for a Cleaning Business Licence and ensure that its workforce are trained in the relevant disinfection training modules before deploying them for disinfection works.

9.      My company provides grave cleaning services and landscaping services only. Does my company need to be licensed?

As the nature of “grave cleaning” work is mainly centred on landscaping and tombstone repair work, your company is not required to be licensed for cleaning.

Licensing Process

10.      Will the training requirement apply to foreign workers and part-time cleaners?

NEA considers the business’ cleaning workforce as a whole. Therefore the training requirement will apply to foreign workers as well as part-time cleaners.

11.      When do I need to make payment for the licence fee?

Cleaning businesses only need to make payment of the licence fee after they have been notified of their successful application.

12.      How do I make payment for the licence fee?

Successful applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable fee of $130 for the cleaning business licence via: 

13.      How do I ensure that I will get my licence renewed on time?

Cleaning businesses must complete training for their cleaners, including foreign workers, before the licence expiry date. Cleaning businesses can submit their applications with the complete supporting information three (3) months before the expiry of the licence expiry date.

14.      I already have my licence. How can I apply for the Clean Mark Award?

From 1 January 2024, NEA has ceased the issuing / renewing of Clean Mark awards. Cleaning businesses may apply for the Class 1 Licence under the revised Cleaning Business Licensing framework from 1 January 2024 onwards.



15.      Do I need to have a cleaning contract in order to apply for a Cleaning Business Licence?

For new licence applicants, you are required to obtain a valid licence before entering into a contract. Please refer to the licensing requirements for new start-ups.

For existing licensees, you may renew your cleaning business licence with an ongoing cleaning contract or a contract that was completed within 12 months preceding your licence renewal application.

For former licensees that do not have a valid cleaning contract, please refer to the licensing requirements for new start-ups. Do note that it is in an offence to continue providing cleaning services if your cleaning business licence has expired.

16.      I have already entered into a cleaning contract before getting a cleaning business licence. What should I do?

It is an offence to provide general cleaning services without a valid cleaning business licence, and enforcement action may be taken. Where possible, please cease all business operations until you have obtained a valid cleaning business licence.

Revision to the Licensing Scheme (from 1 January 2024 onwards)

Part A: Licensing Structure and Administration

17.   When will I be able to apply for the 2-year licence?

The revised licensing framework will be implemented from 1 January 2024. Cleaning business must specify the class of licence they are applying for when submitting their licence application/ renewals. Class 3 licence will only be available for new cleaning businesses who have not obtained a licence before and cleaning businesses that holds a valid licence as at 31 December 2023.

18.   If I attained a Class 2 Licence in 2024, can I apply for Class 3 Licence in the later years?

Class 3 Licence will not be available for cleaning businesses once they have attained a Class 2 or 1 Licence. Cleaning businesses with Class 1 or 2 Licences will need to renew their licence to minimally a Class 2 Licence.

19.   If i renew my licence in 2023, will my renewed licence be given 2-years of licence validity?

Only licence applications applied from 1 January 2024 will be given the 2-years licence validity. Licence applications made in 2023 will be given 1-year validity and are not subjected to the new licensing requirements and conditions.

20.   The revised licensing framework will commence before the expiry of my current 1-year licence in August 2024. Does my cleaning business need to meet the new requirements, such as Paid-up Capital and bizSAFE certification, starting from 1 January 2024?

Cleaning businesses holding a 1-year licence that was renewed in 2023 are not subjected to the new licensing requirements and conditions. However, cleaning businesses will need to meet the respective new requirements when renewing their licence into Class 1, 2, and 3 Licences in 2024.

21.   My cleaning business is unable to meet the new requirements under Class 2 Licence. Will NEA provide any assistance such as a one-time waiver for these requirements to support cleaning businesses?

NEA has provided a Class 3 Licence to allow cleaning businesses an additional 2-years to grow capabilities and meet the licensing requirements under Class 2 or 1 Licences. Existing cleaning businesses that hold a valid licence as at 31 December 2023 will be eligible to renew their licence into a Class 3 Licence in 2024. Businesses applying for a new licence for the first-time will also be eligible for the Class 3 Licence.

22.   How much is the new licence fee?

NEA is currently reviewing the fee and will communicate with stakeholders when ready. Notwithstanding, the new licences will be valid for two years, a longer validity  from the current 1-year licence.

23.   Following the implementation of the revised cleaning business licensing framework, how would it impact my company's Clean Mark award?

The Clean Mark awards accredited under the Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme (EAS) will continue to be valid until its expiry. The Clean Mark award will no longer be renewable when the revised licensing framework is implemented from 1 January 2024. NEA requires Government Procurement Entities to procure general cleaning services from cleaning businesses with Class 1 Licence in the long term.

24.   For the application of Class 1 Licence, are cleaning businesses required to submit productivity reports and clients' appraisal forms?

The submission of productivity reports and client’s appraisal forms are existing criteria of the Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme (EAS). However, with the revised cleaning business licensing framework from 1 January 2024, these will not be a criteria for licence applications. Cleaning businesses will not be required to submit the productivity reports and client’s appraisal forms when applying for Class 1, 2, or 3 Licences.

25.   Will I still be able to apply for a Clean Mark award after 1 January 2024?

The Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme will be merged with the licensing scheme with effect from 1 January 2024; thus cleaning businesses will no longer be allowed to renew their Clean Mark accreditations from January 2024. The Clean Mark award will continue to be valid until the award expiry date.

Cleaning businesses may apply for Class 1 Licence which incorporates key requirements from the Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme. Cleaning businesses with a higher class of licence can signal their commitment to invest in the training of their cleaners to attain better cleaning competencies, and provide more assurance to service buyers that they are equipped with more resources to undertake larger cleaning projects.

Part B: Paid-up Capital (for Class 1 and 2 Licences)

26.     My cleaning business is a Sole Proprietorship and does not have any Paid-up Capital. How can I apply for a Class 1/ 2 licence?

For non-incorporated business entities (e.g., sole-proprietorships, partners, societies, etc.) that do not have paid-up capital, they can submit their latest financial statements, which includes the latest audited Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement. NEA will evaluate on the business’ net-worth in the financial statements, based on the total assets minus total liabilities within the Statement of Accounts.

If the company’s Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Statement are not audited, applicants can submit the unaudited copies instead and provide justifications on the exemption from financial audit, with certification by the company as true and correct.

27.     Do I need to maintain the minimum amount of Paid-up Capital throughout my licence tenure?

Paid-up Capital will only be required to be met at the point of licence application and subsequent licence renewal applications. Cleaning business will not be required to maintain any minimum amount throughout the licence duration.

Part C: bizSAFE Certification (for Class 1 and 2 Licences)

28.   I am the owner and sole cleaner of my cleaning business, and I have already attended a Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) course to meet NEA’s training requirement. Do I still need to attain bizSAFE Level 3 certification?

Cleaning businesses will be required to also attain the bizSAFE Level 3 certification as it is a separate requirement from the training of cleaning workforce. The bizSAFE certification is for the cleaning business to put in place risk management measures. This is to ensure that the individual cleaners are trained and equipped with the critical knowledge and awareness of workplace safety.

29.   Is my cleaning business also required to maintain the bizSAFE Level 3 throughout my licence duration?

Cleaning businesses are required to maintain a valid bizSAFE certification, minimally at Level 3, throughout the licence duration. The bizSAFE Level 3 certificate is valid for 3-years, hence, your cleaning business will need to renew the Level 3 certification or upgrade to a higher bizSAFE level.

30.   Does my cleaning business need to obtain bizSAFE Level 1 and 2 first, before I can apply for bizSAFE Level 3?

Cleaning businesses may apply for a level directly as long as it meets the bizSAFE Level 3 requirements:

(a) bizSAFE Level 1 workshop Certificate of Attendance (CoA)
(b) bizSAFE Level 2 RM course Statement of Attainment (SOA)
(c) Risk Management audit report done by a Singapore Accreditation Council (SAC) accredited Auditing Organisation (AO)

31.   My cleaning business has cleaners deployed across several office buildings / worksites. Does the auditor need to audit all the worksites / office buildings for application of bizSAFE Level 3?

Minimally, the auditor needs to audit 10% of the sites, provided that the worksites have similar business nature, operating under the same company UEN. The auditor has the discretion to audit more sites if necessary.

32.   My company currently has more than one registered principal activity under the company’s UEN. Can we limit the bizSAFE Level 3 to only the cleaning business?

For businesses that have more than one registered principal activity under the company’s UEN, you may inform the auditor to limit the audit scope to just cover the cleaning function/operation of the business. This must be communicated to the auditor before the audit commences. That said, the auditor has the discretion to reject the request based on his/her assessment of the whole business function/operation.

33.   My cleaning business is keen to apply for a Class 2 Licence, but we do not have enough the resources to apply for a bizSAFE Level 3 certification yet. Can NEA provide any waiver to this requirement?

Existing cleaning businesses can apply for Class 3 licence in 2024 without having to meet the bizSAFE requirement. They will have additional 2-years until 2026 to work towards attaining the required bizSAFE certification under Class 1 or 2 Licence.

34.   Will there be subsidies for the application of bizSAFE certification?

The bizSAFE programme is administered by the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC). The WSHC provides various support for the different bizSAFE levels. For more information, please contact or visit WSHC’s website.

Part D: Conviction History (for Class 1 Licence only)

35.   If my cleaning business is undergoing investigations but are not convicted, am I still eligible for a Class 1 Licence?

Cleaning businesses may continue to submit application for a Class 1 Licence and declare any ongoing investigations to NEA. NEA will check with the relevant authorities on your eligibility for the Class 1 Licence.

Cleaning businesses with Class 1 licence found to be court-convicted of the legislations mentioned in the Cleaning Business Licence webpage or submitted false declarations may have their Class 1 Licence revoked or suspended.
 
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Other Queries

36.   As a service buyer, how do I ensure that my licensed service provider gets his licence renewed on time?

Licensed cleaning businesses are required to ensure that their cleaning business licence remains valid throughout the contract period. Service buyers can also help by reminding their service providers to renew their licence on time so that the service providers can continue to provide their cleaning service without any disruption.

37.   How will I know if a cleaning business is licensed?

Please refer to the Public Search Page here for the list of licensed cleaning businesses.

38.   What is the penalty for operating a cleaning business without a licence?

Cleaning businesses found operating without a valid licence will be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 or up to 12 months imprisonment or both and $1,000 every day for continuing offences.

39.   What is the penalty for licensed cleaning businesses that do not comply with licence conditions?

Licensed cleaning businesses found to be in breach of any licence condition may face a maximum financial penalty of $5,000 and may risk having their licence revoked or suspended.

40.   What is the penalty for engaging an unlicensed cleaning business?

Service buyers who engage unlicensed cleaning businesses will be liable to a maximum fine of $10,000 and $1,000 every day for continuing offences.

41.   Who can I contact if I wish to know more about the course fees/ duration and training subsidies under the Environmental Cleaning WSQ Framework?

Please contact SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) at the following:

Tel: 6785 5785      Feedback portal: https://service-portal.skillsfuture.gov.sg/s/feedback

42.   Who can I contact if I want to get the Environmental Cleaning WSQ training records of my cleaning workforce?

Please contact SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) at the following:

Tel: 6785 5785        Feedback portal: https://service-portal.skillsfuture.gov.sg/s/feedback

43.   Who can I contact if I wish to know more about the Progressive Wage Model?

Please contact Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s contact centre or visit MOM’s website here.
Tel: 6438 5122       

You may also contact the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) Secretariat - NTUC U Care Centre at 1800 255 2828 or visit their website here to read the TCC reports in detail.