The cleaning industry, as a whole is worth £8 billion and employs thousands of cleaners. A recent report carried out by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has revealed that employers in the commercial cleaning industry were failing to engage their staff and meet certain criteria, in terms of improving their working conditions.
Scott Hill, HR Director at Interserve, explains in an interview with FM World, “ a lot of what goes on in our industry is not hugely consistent if truth be told”. This, coupled with the results of the report, strongly highlights that something needs to change in this industry, and sooner rather than later.
How was the report received?
Surprisingly, rather than simply forgetting the report and filing it amongst the others, there has been a noticeable amount of interest. Many of the reports recommendations have been taken seriously and a conscious effort has been made to tackle the problem areas that the report has helped raise awareness to.
How is the problem being addressed?
A task force has been created of members from across the cleaning industry, including: ISS, Interserve, Tesco, NHS Property Services, British Institute of Cleaning Science, BIS, Enhance Office Cleaning, KPMG, the Health and Safety Executive and many more.
The outcome of the report has been divided into three main areas of concern. These are:
Guy Stallard of KPMG is chairing this group where the team will look into how all cleaning practices should take into consideration the working conditions of all cleaners.
The second group will investigate how we can make sure our employees are treated with more respect, especially as the EHRC report revealed that many of them feel they are the “lowest of the low”.
Headed up by Scott Hill, this project group will look into contract terms such as employees holiday entitlement and sick pay.
With a clear plan and areas to focus on, things are looking positive in terms of encouraging and promoting change, rather than discussing what is wrong with the industry and leaving it at that.
How will it move forwards?
So now the areas for concern are being addressed, you might wonder how things are actually going to change? Well, the concept of a postcard has been regarded highly by the task force.
A two-sided postcard will contain all essential information such as:
- Minimum expectations when joining the company
- Term and conditions of employment
- Health and safety
- Right to work being checked
The postcard will be attached to all payslips so the employer has a hard copy that is readily available to read. The idea is to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible, so it is easy to follow and can also be translated into various different languages, depending on the employee’s native language.
What effects will it have on the cleaning industry?
Scott Hill explains how once everyone has agreed on a set of standards, they should continue to be adhered to – even after the 5 month mark when the task force working on this project has finished.
Hill has every faith that this will be successful and make a significant difference, helping improve conditions for all workers in the cleaning industry, as there is clearly a strong need for something like this.
Scott & Sons
Here at Scott & Sons in Hertfordshire, we have always placed a high emphasis on providing all our employees with excellent working conditions. We believe a happy and content workforce is the best way to achieve outstanding results, as it makes happy customers too!