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To read the actual report one is left with a feeling of relief that there are no major examples of either discrimination or exploitation of cleaning sector

workers in general. At least no more than would be found in other workplace sectors.

The report looked at a wide range of issues that could, or do, affect the cleaning industry. In general the sectors looked at were cleaning in health, retail, transport and leisure, which are the largest employers of an industry that turns over an estimated £8billion a year in the UK, employing a massive 446,000 people, making it the third largest in Europe.

Cleaning employs the largest number of female, ethnic minorities, migrant workers and older employees compared to the average UK workforce.

I don’t believe that the EHRC report is a fair refl ection on the industry, mainly because there was not enough evidence gathered. The evidence

was taken from less than 1% of the cleaning sector, which is a very small representation of the whole industry, therefore how can it be completely accurate? There are obviously some companies who do not treat their staff in an appropriate manner, but I believe they are few and far between, and we need to address those where we can in the correct way.

The cleaning industry does not have the best reputation because it is hard work, labour intensive and requires dedication but I think that the EHRC report does nothing to help that image. If anything, it strengthens the views that all cleaning companies and contractors are not treated particularly well.

So how can we improve things? As a company, Principle Cleaning Services encourage all of its clients


Training is a constant Achilles heel and the progression of employees into higher management is very low. The reason for this is perhaps a reluctance on the part of employees to engage with training as it must in general be taken in ‘own time’.

Employers are at a disadvantage when training is carried out during normal working hours as it impacts with the contractual obligations the contractor has committed to. Perhaps the way of the future is to allow for training of employees in the initial contract negotiations.

The section on dignity and respect found that there were no endemic problems with this, which is very reassuring and is to be expected from reputable employers.

I believe we are doing as well as we can to recognise the talent and hard work that is out there but we should be doing a lot more to ensure the continuation in what is an extremely important industry.

to recognise good service, and to let us know when things are going well and of course when problems arise. In particular, we ask our clients to let us know which individuals should be recognised as having provided an exceptionally good service so that they can be recognised throughout the company – this in turn encourages other staff to provide a high quality service. Cleaning staff are also made to feel that they are an important part of the business and are encouraged to attend training courses which in turn lead to career progression.

Employees need to be encouraged to be more motivated, which our clients can help out with by letting us know when they have received great service. We need to encourage people to talk to cleaners when they have done a really good job, to say ‘thank you’ or ‘hello’ to them, and make them feel more respected and part of the organisation. I personally go out of my way to show my appreciation for the job that they do at whatever level and in whatever country I am in. I also feel that there have been consistent improvements to cleaners’

It was an extremely interesting report highlighting, I believe, important issues but from someone who spends a lot of time at the ‘sharp end’, I feel that things are going the right way. But consider, recognition can be a two way street and employees need to strengthen their case with commitment and enthusiasm in order to earn that recognition.

Brian Boll, Systems Director, Jigsaw Cleaning

This month we ask... Be EHRC report on cleaner doing enough to recogn work of employees with

working conditions, which include more daytime cleaning and also the big move towards the living wage that clients and the general public are beginning to recognise the importance of. At the end of the day, the simple thing is that if we don’t clean to a high standard, then hospitals couldn’t operate and schools would shut down, something which obviously does not bear thinking about.

Douglas Cooke, Co-Founder of Principle Cleaning Services

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