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Part-time work reorganisation for French cleaners23rd of September 2013
French reporter Christian Bouzols brings news of an agreement designed to improve part-time working.
The major French unions and the French cleaning federation FEP have come to an agreement, expressed in a joint declaration, to improve provisions concerning part-time working in the cleaning sector. Their agreement is to move forward on existing agreements relating to part-time working and to come out with a proposal that will tie in with a major contract for industry as a whole signed last January and to be implemented as a new law in the near future.
The main innovation of this declaration concerns the ‘complément d’heures’, which is a supplementary and adjustable working period that a cleaner is allowed to undertake in order to meet the demands of the client. Current legislation provides for these supplementary working periods to be paid at rates agreed by local branches. The signatories to the declaration want to extend this system and also to promote working schedules that will enable cleaners to work longer hours and in a less fragmented way.
For many years, the French cleaning sector has campaigned to increase the working hours of cleaners who work part-time, as they are the majority of the workforce. During a national conference organised by the government last November on the issue of part-time working, this idea was a major campaigning point of the FEP, intent on protecting the interests of both cleaning contractors and employees.
The use of ‘complément d’heures’ is now accepted. The system will allow temporary increases in the working hours of part-time cleaners by means of additional clauses in their work contracts. These supplementary hours will be remunerated at rates agreed within local branches. The system will thus allow cleaning companies to better adapt to current requirements and to take account of the cleaners’ concerns in terms of work security and career promotion. It contains provisions regarding the minimum number of working hours per week and the maximum working time that can be included.
The joint declaration also promotes a scheduling of cleaning work that will enable cleaning contractors, particularly in new contracts, to measure their supply of services in days and that will reduce the fragmentation of work for cleaners assigned to neighbouring sites.
The signatories also announced a social agenda to negotiate an agreement relating to the right to housing, and to set up a committee of representatives of bosses and unions to study the matter of gender equality at work.
There are three main reasons why 75 per cent of French cleaners are part-timers. The first one is that facilities managers, both private and public, insist that the work be carried out in the absence of their office staff. That’s why cleaning jobs normally have to be performed outside office hours, either early in the morning or in the evening, when the premises are empty. Secondly, jobs that need to be carried out on small or medium sized premises do not justify full time working.
The third reason relates to current provisions whereby cleaners who are on a contract can remain in that job even if their employer loses the relevant contract. Therefore wage earners in the sector can become part-time workers with several employers, even if their working hours haven’t changed.