*Cleanzine-logo-6.jpgCleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 13th June 2019 Issue no. 874

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Australian cleaning contractors face similar issues to those in the UK

It's interesting to read in the Australian Cleaning Contractors' Alliance newsletter that the industry there is facing the same problems as we are here. Writes the Alliance's John Laws:

"It's time again to mention that the industry continues to compete on unrealistic hourly rates rather than on quality of service. How can the users of our services ever give us respect when they see wages constantly increasing while our hourly charges remain static or reduce?

"I keep putting out Recommended Hourly Rates and contractors insist on cutting those rates by up to $10.00 per hour. If the Fair Work Ombudsman was to check all of these so called business people out, it would be total chaos because they cannot meet their legal overheads.

"Yes, I know that many contractors operate out of sight but you would be surprised just how many get caught out. You cannot go around paying people cash without others finding out and sooner or later that information reaches the ATO, the WorkCover people, the Payroll Tax people and so on, not to mention the Fair Work Ombudsman. Penalties can be crippling and you still have to pay the employees their entitlements.

"If we were all prepared to operate on the so called level playing field and quote prices that are realistic, the purchasers of our services would soon learn that an hourly rate of $33.00 is reasonable under all circumstances. However, there are far too many 'smarties' operating in our industry, playing on the lack of knowledge of their own countrymen who have recently arrived and are unaware of their rights.

"The culture in Australia is that one should never dob in another. Maybe it's time that that attitude changed, and we did something positive for all, rather than see the few continue to get rich at the expense of the large number of honest ethical companies and small businesses operating in our sector.

"We have an industry which is constantly being upgraded by new and innovative research, new equipment and cleaning products, new ideas and attitudes, new methods of cleaning better and more efficiently and yet at the end of the day we are dominated by price cuts and poor service. Its' time to look to the future and charge decent prices for a good job."

Gender equality is also an issue. With the debate on specified gender quotas in the boardroom causing further divisions at the EU Summit, one might think that the idea is peculiar to the EU, but this is not the case... Writes John Laws about proposed reforms:

"If your business employs more than 100 employees, the proposed reforms are particularly relevant with the introduction of new reporting and compliance requirements.

"Men and women alike will be covered by the proposed Workplace Gender Equality Act which will replace the current Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth).

"Similarly, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency will replace the current Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. The new name brings with it more expansive powers and responsibilities, including organisational reviews, and the development of industry-level benchmarks and strategies for achieving equality.

"The reforms will introduce reporting requirements on employers, including on the gender composition of their boards, and against a set of gender equality indicators relevant to outcomes for women and men in the workplace."

John goes on to write about migration:

"The Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill cracks down on hiring illegal workers.

"The Federal Minister of Immigration Government has introduced into Parliament new legislation targeting employers involved in hiring illegal workers based on the recommendations of 'The 2010 Review of the Migration Amendment (Employer Sanctions) Act 2007 Report by barrister Stephen Howells with some modifications following consultations with stakeholders."

The bill amends the Migration Act to:

* Alter criminal offence provisions and create a new civil penalties regime - with maximum fines for corporate entitles of $49,500 and for individuals of $9,900 - and an infringement notice scheme.
* Broaden the application of criminal offences and civil penalty provisions to people who allow or refer an unlawful non-citizen to work or to work in breach of visa conditions;
* Create statutory defences where reasonable steps are taken to verify a foreign national worker's entitlement to work;
* Create an infringement notice tier sitting under the civil penalties provision, allowing a person or corporate entity to pay a fine as an alternative to court proceedings;
* Amend the current aggravated offences provision so that a person commits an aggravated offence where the worker is or will be exploited doing the work, and the person who allowed the work or referred the worker knows this or is reckless about it;
* Extends both criminal and civil liability, in certain circumstances, to executive officers of bodies corporate, partners in a partnership and members of an unincorporated association's committee of management; and
* Creates search warrants and notice to produce powers specifically to facilitate the investigation of suspected breaches of these offences and civil penalties.

"The Immigration Minister, when introducing the legislation, said he believed the Bill, 'strikes a balance between targeting those employers who flout the rules, while taking care not to overstretch the resources of the vast majority of employers who seek to do the right thing'... Also that, in order to encourage compliance, the Government would also ramp up its awareness campaign and help employers gain access to information about prospective employees' visa work status."

T: 02 9712 1566
F: 02 9712 4168
E: [email protected]
W: www.cleaningcontractors.com.au

25th October 2012

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