Industry Profile - Cleaning - 2020
Here we look at labour exploitation in the cleaning industry and the headline trends for this sector including victim profiles, location, how they are recruited and how to prevent exploitation.
Victims are often reported to be female and of Bulgarian or unknown Eastern European nationality. Age is largely unknown.
Vulnerabilities are likely to be targeted by exploiters. There are reports of irregular migrants being recruited and limited reports of the homeless and those afflicted by alcohol/drug addiction working in the sector.
The most frequently reported location is London.
N.B: There are gaps in intelligence concerning methods used to transport workers to the UK and the extent of the exploiter’s involvement in this.
Methods used to recruit workers are not always known. Where reported, recruitment agencies, social media and friends and family are used. Some recruitment agencies hold a GLAA licence.
Exploiters regularly provide accommodation, usually a shared residential property. There are limited reports of workers sleeping in vehicles and at their place of work.
Withheld wages and payment below National Minimum Wage are most frequently reported. There are limited reports of workers receiving free accommodation instead of a wage and being unable to afford food.
Hours are described as excessive with inadequate breaks and little or no rest between jobs.
Wages account for a substantial amount of overall costs and subsequent increases to the NMW may result in tighter margins and increasing non-compliances.
There are concerns that companies relying on migrant workers may suffer labour shortages following the implementation of the points-based immigration system.
Key questions to prevent and identify labour exploitation
• Do you know and understand each level of your supply chain, including contractors?
• How do you raise awareness of modern slavery and labour exploitation in the industry with customers, workers and organisations you supply/source workers to/from? Do you have a whistleblowing policy?
• Do you have a publicised reporting process for complaints by workers?
• Do recruitment processes include questions to identify whether a person may have been trafficked, paid work finding fees, or was otherwise exploited whilst seeking employment?
• Do you have any additional due diligence checks for workers at risk of being exploited? Including access to translation services?
• Do your cleaners know how to spot the signs of modern slavery?
• Has your organisation undertaken a modern slavery / labour exploitation risk assessment?
• Do you have an internal escalation process if you identify an issue of exploitation? Do you know who to contact?
What to consider when reporting intelligence
Example: A cleaning company is paying workers below the National Minimum Wage; the workers are not provided with PPE.
What further information may help the intelligence team?
Provide more details about the workers involved:
- Do you know what language they speak or what nationality they are?
- Do any appear to be minors?
- Male or female? What hours do they work?
- How are workers arriving, are there vehicle details?
- How does recruitment occur?
- Are there any more company details?
- What is the geographical impact?
Whilst not all factors may be known, any additional details will assist the GLAA in identifying people and locations involved for operational purposes and to improve our intelligence picture.
GLAA resources are available including our Spotting the Signs leaflet.
Who to contact
Please report to the GLAA:
• Unlicensed trading in the regulated sector (agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and any associated processing and packaging) across the UK.
• Labour market offences (non-payment of the National Minimum Wage, breach of Employment Agency Standards) in the regulated sector in England and Wales
• Individuals, labour users or labour providers who are suspected of modern slavery and human trafficking in any labour industry (excluding sexual exploitation), or individuals who are potential victims of such activity in England and Wales.
Please report to partners:
• Issues of National Minimum Wage only, in sectors that are not GLAA regulated to the HMRC NMW team (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/national-minimum-wage-enquiries-and-complaints)
• Health and safety issues only (all sectors) to the Health and Safety Executive (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm)
• Workplace relations and employment law issues (including contract issues, discrimination and grievances) to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1410)
• When there is an immediate threat to life contact the police emergency number.
• To report labour exploitation, human trafficking or modern slavery outside of the regulated sectors in Northern Ireland or Scotland, contact the local police service.