Melbourne-based cleaning contractor Ramos Cleaning Services is reportedly facing an investigation following claims of “massive wage theft”.
Fairfax Media has revealed pay slips, time sheets and workplace agreements from the company undercut minimum pay and conditions for cleaners by “as much as $100 a week” and that “employees are missing out on up to $5000 a year because they are being denied penalty rates and other entitlements”.
Ramos Cleaning Services is understood to hold government contracts to clean 18 public schools across Melbourne including Brunswick Secondary College, St Albans Secondary, Belle Vue Primary and Sydenham-Hillside Primary School.
Fair Work Ombudsman begins preliminary enquiries
A spokesperson for the Fair Work Ombudsman told INCLEAN the Ombudsman is aware of claims made in relation to Ramos Cleaning Services and is in the process of making preliminary enquiries. However, the spokesperson said it would not appropriate to provide further comment on these claims at this point in time.
According to Fairfax Media, the underpayment claims include:
- Workers receiving flat hourly rates of between $20 and $22. While above the legal minimum of $18.90, this is not enough to cover the shortfall in penalty rates and other allowances being denied
- Cleaners working part of their shifts before 6am or after 6pm. Under the Cleaning Services Award, this means they are entitled to penalty rates of 15 per cent extra for their entire shift
- Staff being hired on a “permanent part-time” basis, legally entitling them to a further 15 per cent loading
- The use of “individual flexibility agreements” as a compulsory requirement of employment which restricts new employees’ sick leave to just five days a year
Reputable cleaning firms missing out: BSCAA
The Building Services Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA) told INCLEAN many of its members have complained that reputable companies are being undercut on price in government schools, making it impossible for those who meet all their legal obligations to compete.
[quote]”Our goal is to deliver the highest possible standards across the cleaning industry. We want cleaning to be an industry where clients get excellent service and cleaners are paid their full legal minimum rates. Unfortunately, it is becoming impossible for reputable companies who meet all their legal obligations to the schools and to the cleaners to compete,” the association said.[/quote]
The Education Department’s School Cleaning Panel has encouraged “any cleaning contractors who feel they are being underpaid are encouraged to contact the department’s cleaning contract unit”.
Ramos Cleaning Services has not responded to requests for comment, but has previously rejected allegations of underpaying its workers.