Scentre Group is the owner and operator of Westfield Shopping Centres in Australia and New Zealand, and one of the largest procurers of commercial cleaning services in Australia.
As part of ACCR's program of work looking at labour rights in the commercial cleaning sector, ACCR has been engaging with Scentre Group about how the company prevents wage theft in its cleaning contracts, and how it manages safe workloads for contracted cleaning staff. After months of engagement, the company has agreed to report on these issues, as part of its Responsible Business Report and Modern Slavery Statement, to be released in the first half of 2021, which ACCR will be scrutinising.
The commercial cleaning services sector has been identified as one of the sectors at the highest risk of labour abuse and modern slavery. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these risks have only increased. Frontline cleaners are working hard to keep up with new hygiene requirements for public buildings, and these increased workloads need to be fairly reflected in contract prices, and additional oversight of working conditions is necessary.
At a bare minimum, companies should be publicly reporting on:
- How they verify that contract prices are sufficient to ensure the payment of legal minimum wages and entitlements, and safe workloads;
- How they ensure that their cleaning contractors are meeting workplace health and safety obligations to their workforce; and
- Information about grievance mechanisms available to cleaning workers in company supply chains, including information on how cleaners are accessing these mechanisms, and how the company is responding to complaints.