Excepts from the Book Security Adventure Service (Chapter 16)
Security Officer’s Pay and Entitlements
I have spoken to a lot of people in the industry. One of the most common concerns is that most people come into the industry as a ‘Plan B’, meaning they are planning on doing security just for the time being until they get into their dream career. Or they got laid off from their previous job, lost their business or are a new immigrant. Whatever the circumstances, a good number of these people end up staying in the industry, either through choice, their age or some other personal reason.
The security industry award wage in Australia is uniform, but there are different areas of security and their pay scale varies. For example, for armed guards, aviation security, port security, bodyguards and crowd control, to mention a few. Security also has different ratings or levels.
Often such levels are measured by the amount of hazard you’re most likely to face or the responsibilities and work you will carry out and that determines the pay, although none of them are below the security award wage.
Take, for example, a guard I used to work with in port security who earns about $120,000 per annum before tax, whereas in another retail site the supervisor/manager earns about $62,000 annually before tax. So, as you can see, it depends on what area/level of security you work in. Sometimes it depends on the company or the contract that the employer has.
For example, security officers for the Reserve Bank tend to be paid really high wages, but this job is not an easy one to get into as it requires a lot of high-security clearance and you must have the right certification. Sometimes it’s who you know that can help you to secure a good, high-paying job, but what you know.
So, in the industry, there are a lot of high-paying jobs above $60,000 per year as a basic security officer. Sometimes it depends on the number of hours you are able to work, your training/certification, experience, employer and the site you work in.
Another group of people I have come across are the ones sitting on the fence. Either they are planning to join the industry or they already have their licence and they’re busy shopping around asking questions like, ‘How much are you being paid?’. They are not wrong to ask such questions so as to be sure what they are getting into. You can’t blame them when the Australian security industry award wage promises more, but a lot of shonky operators try to get away with paying less, otherwise known as wage theft.
Dodgy and Desperate Operators
Lack of a united voice and desperation is what is robbing the trained and licensed security officers of their rightful wage. If all security officers are paid the right wage as set by the Fair Work Commission under the Security Services Award in Australia, the security officer role would have to be one of the best-paid occupations in the country.
Sadly, the industry is filled with a lot of greedy individuals (aka operators, companies, businesses) who only think of their pockets and not the employee. Such desperation to secure jobs/contracts from clients has made a lot of these operators bid at the lowest possible denominator in what rate they charge the client. Often, it’s even below the award wage just in order to get jobs/contracts, undercutting legitimate and reputable companies who charge clients a certain rate so they can pay their employees the legal wage and cover their own costs. At the end of the day, ‘the little man’, the security officer pays the ultimate cost by being underpaid, below the national minimum wage. Take note, minimum wage is not the same as the Security Services Industry Award wage.
These low bids from questionable operators mean that they can’t afford to pay their security officer the award wage. Their aim for such low bids to the client is to win jobs/contracts and make profits but then the client is supplied guards who are not properly trained, as well as not suitable for the jobs and roles available. Also, these guards are not motivated because they know they are being ripped off. Their output becomes abysmal and the client loses customers due to security personnel underperforming, or in some cases, these operators even supply untrained and unlicensed individuals as security personnel.
If operators in the security industry can be united in their resolve to clean up the industry and pay all security officers award wage, only putting in bids for jobs/contracts that will afford them to pay the right award wage, then the security industry will attract higher IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional intelligence) individuals to join and also retain the great guards already in the industry.
What to Do?
Research: There are a few security companies that pay award wage, but many don’t. I would encourage you, the security officer, to undertake a bit of research about such companies and seek to work for them.
Stand in unity: When you work for a questionable operator, I urge you to talk to your colleagues about the unfair wage you’re being paid. Band yourselves together, join a union and approach the employer to review your wage in line with the national security industry award.
Report to authorities: Report the employers to the Fair Work Commission or any national statutory body that regulates or oversees the wages of workers.
Don’t work for them: If you’re already working for a questionable business, make an exit plan of how to find an employer that pays the right wage, or if you’re looking for a job, do your research and don’t take jobs with companies that are underpaying their guards.
I know having just said all this, that it’s hard to find or keep a job, and as the proverb goes, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. I would encourage you to seek opportunities to start your own business or consider changing careers. But, before you take any step, make sure you do your homework well. Consult others for right counsel and be sure you’re 100% certain you are taking the right steps for change.
Why Security Personnel Must be Paid Right – Line of Defence for the Client
The security of every organisation, business or a nation starts with the individual. If the individual employee, resident or patron decided to do what is right and what is expected of them in the first instance, then there would be fewer security concerns.
If employees, residents and patrons decided to be more vigilant, active and personally responsible for the security of their place of employment or residence, then we would have fewer worries about security issues. Security starts with you. Whether you’re in security or not, it starts with you doing the right thing and taking more personal responsibility for the security of your current environment.
The Officer’s Defence
One of the most important assets you will have in your business is your investment in your business security infrastructure. Be it securing your organisation’s information and communications technology (ICT) equipment or getting the correctly paid security personnel to patrol the gate of your offices/business.
The Client Has to Pay
When I talk about how you as the individual are the number one security person, when you take a responsible approach to looking after your organisation or place of residence, this also means every security officer that is employed at your organisation is as important as every other employee you have on your books.
You may assume security officers are just little people who mean nothing more than someone to provide customer service and open gates, etc., but they are far more than that.
The security officers who are looking after your investment have a great deal more responsibility placed on them than a lot of managers at your workplace. When you go home at night your organisation is totally in the hands of these trained and paid officers who will not sleep but keep an eye on your business and make sure it is secured. If there is any attempt of intrusion or suspicious behaviour, they will call the local police for assistance.
The security officer has access to a lot of an organization’s data and access that only a few top executives and managers are given. They work night and day to secure this data and make sure that no unauthorised person has access to such valuable information.
Security officers do not only work to protect and secure your property, but they also act as ad-hoc health and safety officers, reporting and removing potential hazards as to avoid an employee or patrons getting hurt. This saves the company a lot of money in accident payouts and legal fees.
Value and Motivation
Most businesses these days hire security companies to supply them with security personnel or hardware. One thing you have to consider is when you contract these officers, they are then part of your organisation for the duration of the job/contract. As such, you should make these officers feel as though they are a part of your organisation. That makes them feel more valued and gives them that extra motivation to give a 100% in all they do. Even going above and beyond in the service they provide to your business. [To continue reading…….]
Excerpts from the book Security Adventure Service (Chapter 16) written by Job Moses [Security Guarding Services Expert and Consultant based in Melbourne Australia].
Note: If your Department, Business or Company requires an external Security Guard Services Consultant for the following services, then please contact us today:
- Audit Site Contracted Security Guards
- Evaluate Monitor and Supervise your Contracted Security Supplier
- Draft Operational Plan for Security Guard Deployment to High-Risk Site
- Vet Security Companies you are Considering for Tender or to Hire
- Assist in Creating Site Security Operational Policies and Training Manuals
- Deployment of Professional and Licensed Security Officers