UK Equality and Human Rights Commission shines spotlight on cleaning sector

27th of November 2013
UK Equality and Human Rights Commission shines spotlight on cleaning sector

The Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK is calling for evidence from commercial cleaning firms and cleaners as part of an in-depth examination into recruitment and employment practices in the industry.

The two-year project will aim to raise awareness of human rights and equality responsibilities among businesses in the sector and identify practical and cost effective solutions to any problems uncovered.

It follows on from the Commission's earlier inquiry into the meat and poultry processing sector. This revealed widespread mistreatment and exploitation of migrant workers and agency staff. The Commission worked with supermarkets, government, regulators and unions to introduce improvements.

The Commission is keen to explore how the rights of workers to protection from discrimination and their rights to be treated with dignity and respect are promoted in different sectors.

The UK cleaning sector employs more than 400,000 people - sixty per cent of staff are female 37 per cent migrant workers, 59 per cent part-time and 22 per cent aged over 54.

Reports and case studies from other organisations combined with Employment Tribunal data also suggests the industry needs help to address wider problems relating to pregnant workers, concerns about racial and religious discrimination, and even bonded (forced) labour.

The Commission will focus on standardised cleaning in the office, health, retail, transport and leisure sectors in an attempt to gain a balanced picture of the sector, and understand challenges facing workers and businesses alike. It will also look at the impact of contracting out services.

A summary of the findings will be published in spring 2014 and a taskforce of key stakeholders will be formed to consider practical responses to the recommendations.

The call for evidence is now open and runs until December 17. Response forms for both employers and cleaners are available - click here to download.



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