Media release

Fair Work Ombudsman focus on contract cleaning spot on

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR)  welcomes today’s announcement by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) that the contract cleaning sector would be a new compliance and enforcement priority in 2021-22, highlighting historic non-compliance in the sector and the vulnerability of the largely migrant workforce.

Dr Katie Hepworth, ACCR Director of Workers’ Rights said:

“The Ombudsman’s announcement is a wake up call for property owners and their investors that exploitation remains a serious issue in the sector.

“The commercial cleaning sector is widely acknowledged as high risk for labour exploitation and modern slavery.  From underpayment to excessive working hours, sexual harassment and even assault, the challenges in the sector means property owners must genuinely work with all stakeholders to improve work conditions.

“Property owners are relying on due diligence mechanisms that decades of evidence show will fail to pick up instances of modern slavery and labour abuses in their supply chains.

“Their cosmetic compliance may lead to a loss of rental income as tenants move to property owners that are taking effective measures to deal with potential wage theft and modern slavery in their cleaning supply chains.

“Only one model in the market delivers effective compliance, the Cleaning Accountability Framework (CAF). Responsible property owners, Australian Super, ISPT, and CBUS Property have announced that they will certify their whole retail and office portfolios through CAF.

“If property owners do not utilise that framework then investors must demand that property owners demonstrate the effectiveness of alternative approaches.”