Ethical salary for all cleaners

Posted on November 25, 2019 in General Info

Ethical salary

As a company working in the cleaning & facility service sector we rely on our people to provide a consistently high standard of service to all our clients. We respect all our people and ensure they are paid an ethical salary. However not all contractors are the same and sadly underpayment and illegality are still rife within the cleaning sector.

Not so long ago, we won a new contract to provide communal cleaning services to a large residential building in central London.

The operative who had been working for the previous cleaning company was entitled (via TUPE) to transfer to work for us, and following their mobilisation meeting stated they would love to work an ethical cleaning company like Protech Property Solutions.

We discovered that their previous employer had been paying them only £5.50 per hour, for some years. The previous cleaning contractor also owed nearly £3,000 in unpaid wages. They regularly withheld their monthly wages in an effort to tie them to their company (“if you leave, you’ll never get paid”). Sadly the cleaner lived in debt and couldn’t even afford a mobile phone.

The good news? The employer switched their cleaning contract to Protech Property Solutions, and so now our new team member earns an ethical salary and are employed by a responsible contractor. We are happy to report they are now getting there life back on track.

Unfortunately this is by no means unusual in the cleaning industry.

Less than Minimum?

In the last six months alone 1 in 12 of the cleaners we recruited were being paid less than the legal Minimum Wage in their previous job before working for us.

In our experience, underpayment and illegality are rife within the cleaning sector.

Our experience is supported by the most recent statistics published by the Low Pay Commission which show that this is a national problem.

In their April 2019 report, the Low Pay Commission highlighted that the cleaning sector is still characterised by extensive low pay. They found that nearly 240,000 cleaners in the UK earn the Minimum Wage. That is a large proportion of the UK’s cleaning workforce. In London, it is not possible to live on this wage, it is too low – it is a poverty wage.

The Low Pay Commission also reported that in 2018, some 39,000 cleaners in the UK were entitled to the Minimum Wage but were being paid less than this. In other words, nearly 1 in 5 of all cleaners on the Minimum Wage weren’t even getting paid that much.

The cleaning sector is a place of significant illegal underpayment. And according to the Low Pay Commission, the problem is currently getting worse, year on year, not better. HMRC are responsible for enforcement, but are very under resourced.

Hidden in plain sight

These cleaners are not invisible. Every single one of them works in a building used by other people. They live and work under our very noses.

Every employer who outsources a service has a responsibility to ask questions of their service provider and ensure that they are trustworthy. It is not in any employer’s interests to find one of their own suppliers regularly breaking the law within their own premises.

Doing business differently

What makes Protech Property Solutions a different kind of cleaning company?

One of the many things that makes us different, is that from ‘day one’ we have sought to establish a reputation for being trustworthy in how we employ our cleaners.

We are also transparent with our customers about what we pay our cleaners and their terms and conditions – because we are proud of them.

If you are in any doubt as to what your cleaners are getting paid, you are fully entitled to ask. If every employer asked what their cleaners are earning, there probably wouldn’t be 39,000 cleaners earning less than the legal Minimum Wage.

We continue to work for the day when every cleaner in the UK earns not just the Minimum Wage, but an Ethical Wage, and has all of their employment rights respected. Join the movement for change.

For more information on our values please visit Protech Company Values or call one of our friendly team on 0845 604 1288.