Do you know if your cleaner is using subcontract cleaners, and if they are, why you should care? Read on to learn how using subcontractor cleaners can harm your company’s bottom line and reputation.
What is a contractor?
Most people are familiar with contractors, either due to working as a contractor themselves, or hiring a contractor to do work. However, many people are not too familiar with the concept of subcontractors. To begin, let’s look at what contractors are.
Contractors are common in the building and cleaning industry, and more recently, in food delivery and rideshare services. In short, a contractor is a person or company that seeks to do business by obtaining contracts and completing the stipulated work in order to get paid.
Being a contractor is not dissimilar to being a business owner. You work for yourself, meaning you’re required to negotiate pay and wages, pay your own tax, find new customers, and resolve any issues with your customer.
For the above reasons, contractors are usually paid more than employees, and they get to keep 100% of their profits.
What is a subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a type of contractor. While similar in that they complete work on a contractual basis, have to pay their own tax, and negotiate their pay and wages, they differ in that subcontractors form agreements with a contractor, not the customer who is paying for the work to be completed.
Subcontractors are very common in the building industry. When you engage in a building contract, you are paying a contractor, your builder, to complete the construction of your home. This builder will then engage subcontractors to carry out work as part of this larger project. This includes plumbers, tilers, electricians, and carpenters.
When used in this way, subcontractors benefit you, the owner, as you know the work is being completed by experts in their field, and supervised by the contractor, who has an in-depth knowledge of the building industry, ensuring all subcontractors are doing their job correctly.
How does subcontracting work when it comes to cleaning?
When it comes to the cleaning industry, subcontractors usually work under the primary cleaning contractor to help with a job’s workload.
While it may sound harmless enough, unfortunately subcontractors are often used in the cleaning industry for a simple reason – they cost less. While not always illegal, often contractors will take advantage, pocketing pay from the business contracting them, and paying their subcontractors substantially less.
This can put you in violation of labour laws. Cleaner wages are protected under the Cleaning Services Award, which stipulates the minimum hourly rate all cleaners must be paid. There are harsh penalties for business who pay their cleaners less than this rate.
The dangers of subcontract cleaning
If the subcontractor cleaning your premises is underpaid, the law, media, and public doesn’t differentiate between you, the organisation who hires the contract cleaner, and the contractor who hires the subcontract cleaner.
While you may have no idea the cleaners you are contracting use subcontract cleaners, they can still harm the reputation of your business, and you may end up being responsible for paying any fines.
Myer found themselves in this situation in 2015, when the ABC’s 7.30 program revealed Myer cleaners were paid below the award rate, did not receive penalty rates, and left to pay their own superannuation.
This did considerable damage to Myer’s reputation and brand, despite their cleaning contractor, Spotless, being responsible for underpaying their subcontractors.
Other problems with subcontract cleaning
Other problems with subcontract cleaning are much less serious, however will still be felt significantly by your employees and customers.
Cleaners paid poorly for their work are less likely to take pride in their job and ensure their work is of a high standard. After all, if you were being paid poorly, in some cases well below minimum wage, would you make the same effort in your job?
Plus, it can be hard to get into contact with the subcontract cleaner if there are any issues that need to be resolved, as the information will need to be passed down three layers of people until it reaches the right person.
For the above reasons, using a subcontract cleaner can mean the appearance and cleanliness of your workplace can suffer significantly.
How do I know if my cleaner is using subcontract cleaners?
If the cost of your cleaning is too good to be true, it probably is, and it’s likely the cleaner actually cleaning your office or business premise is the one who is suffering. The adage of you get what your pay for is true for many things, and cleaning is one of them.
You can also ask the cleaning company directly and see what they say. If they know their cleaners by name, and do regular check ups of all cleaners, you can feel confident they are not using subcontract cleaners.
PetraClean doesn’t use subcontract cleaners
At PetraClean, we refuse to take advantage of cheap labour and employ subcontractor cleaners. All our cleaners are paid well above industry award and hired directly by us. This gives us more control over our cleaning standards, as well as allowing us to provide more support to our team members.
All cleaners and sites undergo regular supervised cleans, to ensure the cleaners we hire are the ones cleaning your office or workplace.