Updated: Jan 26, 2020
Let me first start by saying - this is something I am extremely passionate about and can get very worked up over. This is something that is affecting the livelihood of many legit, Aussie workers. We are seeing family owned business, small companies and honest hard working people, losing their only source of income. Why? Because of the illegal practices in the Australian cleaning industry. And for that, I am allowed to get upset...
If you are reading this blog then you are someone who has morals and standards...awesome. You are concerned with the livelihood of others and I want to thank you - Jake
Dirty state of the cleanest industry
Let me first explain the realness of the state of the cleaning industry and how the internet is making things 10 times worse. Everyone is aware of cash wages. I am sure you have all read, seen or herd about the illegal issues with big companies like: 7eleven, Myers cleaning sub contractor and Quayclean who were hired to clean Etihad stadium? They have all been investigated and found to be guilty of under paying workers and other illegal practices.
There are links to articles below and do a google search for more.
But what about the small business? They have legal requirements too! So does mum and pa who have a small cleaning biz, and then there are the lead platforms on the internet, like Airtasker and Serviceseeking, who allow unregistered, illegal cleaners, to sign up to use their services.
Let's go even further and do a google search for domestic cleaners. Did you know the top 3 companies found on the first page, are also likely to be trading illegally. They hire sub contractors and get paid a fee from every cleaning job, that is booked through their website. They make out like they have employed staff, but that is misleading. They have no idea who is actually turning up to clean or perform proper checks.
A large portion of these sub-contractors are students and immigrants who have been exploited, and are now used to accepting cash money, sometimes as low as $10.00/hour. They use ABN's to getaway with not paying tax and to work more hours than they are allowed to (overseas students can only work max 20 hours per week) I know this as I have students asking us for work every single day and many offering to use ABN. They are willing to accept lower cash wages too. As much as I want to say its the bigger companies exploiting the workers, honestly, its 50/50. It seems that the news has spread to temp workers coming to Australia to study. Get a cleaning job and get cash money, pay no tax, work many hours and no training needed.
New laws to help
A new law was passed through October 2019 in Victoria, that requires cleaners who sub contract or cleaning companies who hire out staff, to have a labour hire license. This actually means the lead generators, yes airtasker, service seeking and those companies on Google (fantastic cleaners, absolute domestics and the like) are required to have this licence.
Upon thorough investigation, I was am unable to find any of these companies registered with LHLA or in process of being registered.
Being aware of which companies have the licence, is the responsibility of the host - you!
This is especially worth noting if you are a retail space, office, real estate, air bnb, in fact any kind of business using the service of a cleaning company. If you engage with unlicensed companies you may be liable for fines of up to $500,000
Be vigilant and check.
Visit the LHLA website where you can search registered and business who are in the process of getting a licence. Both can trade legally.
Just to let you know APC applied May 2019, and you can search Atkens services to find us.
Fairwork wages is everyone's responsibility
So lets do the math on a few numbers. Here is some info on these companies claiming to give the best cleaning service at the cheapest rates.
The current cleaners award rate for level 1 is $20.82 and Level 2 is $21.54. This is the full time rate, so employees would need 9.5% super-annuation, sick pay and holiday pay. Lets add another $5.00/hour. Then you need workcover and liability insurance, lets add another $2.00. List goes on with training, uniforms, labour hire license registration etc.
So the hourly cost, of a legal cleaning full time employee, is around $34.00/hour for Level 1
Level 1 must be supervised and are unable to work on their own or operate machinery. So if a cleaner is the only one doing the job, then they must get level 2 rates. This is going to up the average hourly rate to around $36.00/hour
These rates only apply 6am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
If they work outside those hours there are overtime rates. Saturday is around $9.00/hour more with Sunday $18.00 and public holidays are an extra $30.00/hour.
Remember this is full time, someone getting 38 hours a week work. The majority of cleaners are hired on a casual basis, due to the work being intermittent, so the minimum rate starts at $26.98/hour. After adding all that up, I would like to know how can a company, offer cleaning at $20.00/hour, $25.00/hour or even $30.00/hour and make a profit?
It is impossible, even with sub contractors as cleaning sub contractors now receive superannuation. The only way a profit can be made is if they are doing something dodgy!!!
I double checked airtasker and interestingly they have the wrong wages on their website:
As you can see, they are stating $20.91 for a level 2 and when you open the link to the award, it is the updated one and states Level 2 at $21.54. Airtasker also forget to mention Saturday and Sunday rates, overtime, super, work-cover, etc. So conveniently it looks like you can hire a cleaner for around $25/hour.
And to top it off, look at the Airtasker average price for a end of lease clean:
Lets do some more sums. An average 3 bedroom/2 bathroom premises end of lease cleaning, thorough job, so that you can get your bond back, would use 3 staff for 3.5 hours each. Total of 10.5 hours work. Based on their top price of $250.00, a company would only get $25.00/hour, which does not even cover wages.
This issue is also happening with the following lead generators:
They all have blogs about average cleaning prices, which fall way under the real price of a legal job.
These lead platforms, as mentioned before, also do not check who they allow to register for leads. So when you hire cleaners through them you are likely to get illegal workers, sub contractors cheating the system, cash workers, and a lot more. Plus a legit hard working company like APC Shine, has no chance to compete for the job, unless YOU make the choice to check who you hire.
Quality of work
We all know you get what you pay for in life, but the promise of discounts, getting things cheaper and saving a buck or two is a big factor, in this world we live in. And I totally understand that, I like to use coupons and shop around too. We can all use a little extra savings. But we need to make sure it is not at the expense of people, who are trying to do the right thing.
The other side is, we need encourage legal trading activities, not support illegal practices.
By going cheaper, using these untrained contractors, (this is not stating every sub contractor is illegal, unqualified or trying to thwart the system) you run a high risk of being totally disappointed with the job and it ends up costing you more.
I recently moved into a new townhouse and was told a vacate clean was performed. I spent 2 days cleaning (ok I am picky, but then thats the APC Shine way) and told the agent I didn't feel like any cleaning was done or if it was, the agent was scammed.
The people they hired had pretty much done nothing. See the images below:
Read these google reviews below to see what I mean about the really bad service, when booking through a lead generator or company that only uses sub-contractors.
These reviews are all from top google ranking domestic cleaning companies who appear on the first page. The reason they appear there is because they pay thousands of dollars to do so, not because the job is of a high quality:
These are all recent reviews from the last few months. Yes all businesses have those times when things don't go right, but to have hundreds of reviews like this, shows the scope of issues caused by not directly employing your cleaners. And it is happening constantly.
I know I am being harsh, but it needs to be said. Personally I had no clue this was going on in the cleaning industry. Having come from entertainment to manage APC Shine and trying to succeed in bringing a new, innovative way to service clients, I started to see the bad practices every where.
Everyday companies and business like ours, struggle to get work and compete with bigger companies who don't live up to the fair work laws and ethical business practices.
APC Shine want to work with our clients, to bring change to the industry, in how cleaners are hired, trained, paid, quality of service and other exciting ideas like:
No more waiting on quotes
Prices already worked out and on website
Full task list of chores
Only employ TFN staff
Train in house
Staff who can speak English and have a personality
Staff bio on website
Before and after photos
Easy to contact
All in all, we want to be able to say we are friendly and unique.
So how can you help?
Send money....lol, no we don't need that, what we need is support and education. Let others know about these practices and make an informed decision on who you hire for cleaning!
Before you hire a service, ask these questions:
Are they legal to work in Australia?
Do they pay taxes?
Do the employ staff or do the use sub contractors?
If they sub-contract can you be sure the sub-contractors are using their own ABN (do an abn search/many overseas workers use other peoples abn's)
Ask if they actually submit their income to the ATO (after all you pay your tax, so should everyone else)
Do they have quality control systems?
Are they labour hire licence if need be?
Do they have work-cover?
Do they have insurance?
Do they disclose all costs, cleaners photos, experience, certificates, etc?
If they are a students, does their working visa allow them to work?
Do they accept track able payments? (bank transfer/credit card/paypal) don't accept cleaners who want cash, this is a sure sign of illegal activity. Plus having a track of your payments will help with disputes.
What does your gut say about this cleaning company?
Check out these articles for more interesting reading on issues in the cleaning industry:
Cleaning up the cleaning industry one shine at a time!
Please note that this information is gathered from personal experience, internet, articles, feedback and other sources. This is in no way a blog to put down cleaners, the industry, cleaning companies, business, etc it is just to alert the public they have more choices. If you believe you have been victimized here and have proof that you are 100% compliant, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org JC