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Guest blog: Cleanology - more important than ever to harness support for fair pay

Dominic Ponniah, CEO of Recognised Service Provider Cleanology: ‘Essential workers have suddenly become more visible, more in demand, and under greater pressure. It’s more important than ever to harness support for fair pay.’

Key workers have played a crucial role in recent months, and support for NHS staff has been overwhelming. I have also been pleased to see other workers, such as cleaners, being applauded. This came as a boost for many at such an uncertain time but, as things return to normal, we need to ensure that recognition doesn’t end with weekly clapping. Now, more than ever, we should ride the wave and convert public gratitude into tangible rewards.
The Living Wage Foundation campaign to promote fairer pay for key workers could not have come at a better time and we all need to get behind it to collectively call for change.

At Cleanology, 13 of our top 20 clients pay Real Living Wage rates and, over the last three years, we have driven a change in attitude among clients which has almost doubled take-up of the scheme. If we are to build on this, we need to understand the barriers and learn how to address them.

Clearly, more needs to be done to raise awareness and Covid has shone a light on the issues. For businesses wishing to demonstrate that a return to work will be safe, a hygienic office is the first step. While office deep cleans are one aspect of this visible safety net, staff also want to see regular, observable cleaning by cleaners who care about the impact of their work. The question is, as we place greater emphasis and responsibility on cleaners, are we willing to remunerate them accordingly?

Perception plays a large part. In 2019, Cleanology commissioned the first independent research into attitudes around wage levels and perceptions towards cleaners’ pay. The results painted a clear picture which is reinforced by recent events. While 63 per cent of employees were concerned that cleaners should be paid fairly, only 39 per cent had a clear idea of the real figures on pay.

In our survey, 31 per cent admitted that they would do the bare minimum if they were not being paid fairly. Why should cleaning be any different? Cleaning, which is often perceived as low-skilled and low-paid work, tends to suffer from a high turnover of staff. At Cleanology, we support the view that commitment and fair pay go hand in hand. When staff feel that they are paid fairly, they invest in the job, in the client, and in their own future. They work to a higher level, stay longer, and often become a valued member of the facilities or management team in the building where they work.

Fair pay should be the starting block for work. As the Living Wage Foundation puts it, ‘we need key workers and they need a real Living Wage.’

Based in London and Manchester, Cleanology is a family-run office cleaning firm with 700 employees that services offices, hospitality venues and even royalty. 

17th September 2020
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