The Centre for Business and Social Innovation (CBSI) at the University of Technology Sydney has been awarded an Australian Research Council grant to further develop the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF).
CAF is an independent, multi-stakeholder association including property managers, cleaning companies, the Fair Work Ombudsman and United Voice.
The standard sets out the obligations of cleaning contractors, but also the responsibilities of owners and their facility managers in procuring and monitoring cleaning arrangements.
Professor Emmanuel Josserand, director, CBSI, told INCLEAN the funding will be put towards further developing the framework as well as analysing its effectiveness. According to Josserand between 20 and 25 per cent of workers in the cleaning industry are underpaid.
The research team will be led by Sarah Kaine, associate professor, management discipline group, UTS Business School. In addition to data collection, the team is set to develop an app for cleaners to use in an effort to gain more access and information from frontline staff. The app, expected to launch early next year, will “allow workers to have a voice in the framework development process”.
“The app will contribute to education and collect information about what’s happening on the ground,” Josserand said.
“As we know from other industries the auditing process can be easily skewed. We’ve found in similar supply chain audits we have conducted, such as in the apparel industry, that involving the worker in makes it easier to detect cases where companies are not doing the right thing.
“Some workers are not informed and are not aware of minimum award rates or penalty rates. The app will be provide education and information to users, as well as let them share information with us.”
CAF recently concluded a pilot of its three-star standard, which independently verifies cleaners are receiving their legal entitlements in selected buildings. CAF’s pilot of the three-star standard involved 10 buildings, including retail and commercial office sites in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Canberra.
As a result of the pilot process, CAF certified Wintergarden Shopping Centre, Brisbane (ISPT, JLL and ISS); 2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (ISPT, CBRE, Consolidated Property Services); and 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (ISPT, CBRE, Consolidated Property Services) were recognised as three-star compliant.
The research team are expected to analyses the results of the three-star pilot in the coming weeks ahead of the expected launch of a four and five star rating system later this year.
“The aim is to expand [the three-star system] to more companies and then launch four and five star ratings based on the experience of the pilot,” Josserand said.
It is understood CAF will look to a wider market launch of the three-star standard in the first quarter of the year, moving beyond commercial (office) and retail sectors, and develop a system for certifying schools, supermarkets, and scaling up across diverse portfolios of buildings.