National scheme for ethical cleaning launches

National certification to clean up the industry launches in Melbourne.

Ethical cleaning certification scheme, the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF) Certification, will launch in Melbourne today following a nationwide trial with commercial and retail properties.

Cleaning companies, building owners and investors will be able to adopt ethical labour practices for cleaners following the launch of the industry-led scheme designed to clean up the cleaning industry.

CAF has already piloted a dozen commercial and retail properties in six states and territories and will be open to market from 1 April 2019.

For the first time in Australia, buildings where the owner and cleaning contractor adhere to good labour standards for cleaners can become CAF-certified.

CAF works with independent auditors to verify that the CAF Standards – as they relate to wages and conditions, tax and super, and responsible contracting – are being met at a building.

CAF, in conjunction with the building owner, manager, cleaning contractor and United Voice, will engage directly with cleaners and facilitate the election of a CAF representative, who receives training and support to monitor ongoing compliance.

Once certification is obtained, this can be displayed at the building to signify to tenants and members of the public that this is a building with responsible owners that is being cleaned well by cleaners employed a company that provides a safe work environment and pays them fairly.

As the scheme is implemented throughout Australia, cleaners will have better conditions at work, cleaning contractors will benefit from responsible procurement practices, and owners and investors will benefit from reduced financial, legal and reputational risk.

Poonam Datar, CEO of the Cleaning Accountability Framework, said the power of CAF is that it engaged all parties – building owners, building managers, cleaning companies, the cleaners’ union and cleaners themselves – to fix the well-known problems in the cleaning industry.

“CAF is a labour rights assurance scheme that uniquely places cleaners at the heart of certification, making it different from just a tick-box exercise. We congratulate the companies who have helped build CAF and are leading the way on social compliance by adopting ethical employment practices, responsible procurement policies, transparency through auditing, and valuing worker voice.”

Jo-anne Schofield, national secretary of United Voice said CAF will reset the floor in a sector that “has been engaged in a race to the bottom”.

“Cleaners working in CAF certified buildings will have respect and rights at work through decent work, fair pay, job security, safe working conditions, and very importantly – a voice at work for a hidden workforce. CAF sends a clear message to building owners and contractors who abide by the law, that they and not the unscrupulous employers, will be rewarded. And it provides certainty and security for cleaners.”

Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker said CAF is part of the solution to fix unethical practices and standards in the commercial cleaning industry.

“We encourage all companies who outsource some or all of their cleaning services to approach the CAF team who will help them to ensure that all the businesses they contract to clean their buildings are paying their workers their correct entitlements.”

Canberra-based cleaner Chris Wagland said cleaning contracts need to be fair, accountable and transparent.

“Cleaning jobs need to have worth and value. It is very hard to take pride in your work when you don’t have enough time to do it. When I started cleaning, cleaning jobs were safe, secure and reliable. You never expected to be rich but you had enough to pay your way.

“Too often now cleaners are referred to as part of the working poor. As a cleaner, I have a right to a safe secure cleaning job that pays me a fair wage – but at the same time my employer has the right to make a profit, and one should not be at the expense of the other.”

Property groups such as ISPT, AMP Capital, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), CBUS Property, Charter Hall, GPT, Vicinity, Woolworths, the Property Council of Australia, JLL and CBRE have been supporters of the program since its inception, and part of the certification’s Advisory Group.

AMP Capital global head of real estate Carmel Hourigan said the group is now embarking on a program to implement the CAF certification across its portfolio of managed assets.

“Not only will this framework ensure contractors are meeting statutory requirements, but it provides a great opportunity for every organisation that contributes to the supply chain, to work towards a common goal of ending practices of modern slavery,” Hourigan said.

Other members of the CAF Advisory Group include AustralianSuper, Facility Management Association of Australia, Building Service Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA), ISS Facility Services Australia, Consolidated, BIC Services, Millennium, Academy Services, Dimeo, Glad Group, Downer Group, Spotless Group, ME Bank, KPMG/Banarra, NSW Long Service Leave Corporation, QLeave, Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Property owners can now apply to have the cleaning services at their buildings or sites certified to the CAF 3 Star Standard.

Certification intakes will be announced at the event and at www.cleaningaccountability.org.au.

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