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How to know if your cleaner is working here legally

Hiring a cleaner for your home is a great way to free up valuable time.

But how can you be sure your cleaner is working here legally? 

People coming to the UK who may have low levels of English or few recognised qualifications often find themselves working in the cleaning sector. While working as a cleaner can be a good source of regular employment, sadly illegal working and exploitation is common.

So if you are hiring a cleaner, it’s vital that you carry out basic checks for your own peace of mind.

The documents

Ask to see your cleaner’s passport. This is a good first step to make sure your cleaner is working here legally. Whatever nationality you believe they have, ask for their passport. That way you avoid getting caught out by incorrect assumptions.

If they have a British or Irish passport, they have the right to work in the UK. If their passport was issued in another country, it should have a stamp from the UK Home Office showing their right to work. Find more information about using passports and immigration documents to check your cleaner is working here legally here.

Your cleaner may be able to provide you with a ‘share code’ to prove their right to work. You can find more information about this here

Hiring a cleaner through an agency

If you use an agency to arrange your cleaning, they should carry out the appropriate checks. This includes ensuring cleaners on their books have the right to work in the UK. However, it is always a good idea to ask how the agency vet their cleaners, so you can be sure your cleaner is working here legally. 

When you are looking for a cleaning agency, ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Is the agency transparent about the fees they charge, and how much of this they pay to their cleaners? Do their cleaners receive the Real Living Wage? What about sick pay and holiday pay? These are all good indicators that a cleaning agency is reputable, and that they will have ensured that your cleaner is working here legally. 

Exploitation: Spotting the signs

Slavery is not confined to the history books. In fact, modern slavery and exploitation is all around us in our towns and cities. So when you are checking that your cleaner is working here legally, look out for signs of exploitation. People who do not have a legal right to work in the UK are at particular risk of exploitation. They may be in fear of deportation, and this can also make them reluctant to report their situation. 

Here are some common signs which should alert you that something isn’t right. 

  • Someone else has possession of their passport
  • Someone asks you to pay your cleaner’s earnings into a bank account under a different name
  • Someone drops off your cleaner and picks them up from their workplace 
  • Your cleaner is accompanied by someone else when they meet you, and are reluctant to speak for themselves. 
  • They wear clothes that aren’t suitable for the work they are doing. 
  • They are living in overcrowded accommodation and are unable to move. 
  • They seem frightened, or confused.

If you suspect someone is a victim of modern slavery or exploitation, you can report it to Unseen. Unseen is a charity which supports victims and campaigns to end modern slavery. Find out more about how to contact Unseen here.

Peace of mind that your cleaner is working here legally

Employing a cleaner who does not have a legal right to work here can have serious consequences. It could result in you being prosecuted, fined or even jailed. So if you are unsure, it’s important to get expert advice. By carrying out some simple checks, and asking some key questions, you can protect yourself, and also help end modern slavery and exploitation in our communities.

Onboarding your cleaner | How to get the clean you deserve

So you’ve found a cleaner – now how do you bring them on board so that you get the clean you want for your home? Here are my top tips.

Time onboarding your cleaner is time well spent.

Your cleaner is going to be part of your essential team, and so it’s really important that you set expectations and agree a way of working, right from the start. That way, you will avoid problems and misunderstandings later.

Be comfortable about expressing what you need when you are onboarding your cleaner. After all, this is your home, and your clean. 

The grand tour

The best way to introduce your cleaner to your home is to walk them through it. It’s a great opportunity to point out any areas that you would like them to focus on, or areas you want them to avoid. If your teen’s bedroom is off-limits, let them know. If you work from home and your desk is in a state of “organised chaos” and best avoided, explain that too.  This is also a good moment to explain about any delicate surfaces.

Have you agreed how long your cleaner will spend on each visit? A walk through your home gives you an opportunity to discuss how long a full clean might take. 

Your Dream Clean

What are your “must haves” for a great clean? Imagine walking into your newly cleaned home – what do you want to see? That might be sparkling clean bathrooms, or a spotless kitchen. You might prioritise mopping hard floors, or changing bed linen. Make sure you set these priorities with your cleaner. That way, if there isn’t time available to do every cleaning task in your home, your cleaner can ensure these essentials are done. 

It’s a great idea to to create a checklist of tasks and discuss this when you are onboarding your cleaner. Set realistic expectations about which tasks can be completed during each visit. For example, cleaning windows might be a once-a-month task, whilst vacuuming might be a task for every visit. If your dream clean includes vacuuming under all the beds, make sure you show that on the checklist.

Key ingredients

Will you be providing a cleaning kit for your cleaner, or will they be bringing cleaning products with them? You might have particular requirements, or products you want to avoid in your home, so share this when you are onboarding your cleaner. If you have pets, you will want to make sure any products are pet friendly in areas they use. Is there is a fragrance you really don’t like? Tell your cleaner so they can avoid using products with this fragrance in your home. 

If you prefer to provide a cleaning kit, consider the health and safety of your cleaner. Some harsh cleaning products can be harmful so think about eco-friendly, gentler choices. These products are better for your cleaner and for your family. 

Don’t forget to show your cleaner where you keep essential supplies such as toilet rolls, bin liners and the vacuum cleaner. 

Sensitive surfaces

You are the expert on your home, so if there are things your cleaner needs to know to give you a great clean, then share this with them. Using the wrong cleaning product on a sensitive surface can cause damage, so it’s very important that you share this information with your cleaner. How should your wooden kitchen worktops be cleaned? If kitchen cleaner is too harsh, suggest white vinegar as an alternative. Are your bathroom floor tiles made from natural stone? Make sure you explain how to clean it safely, when you are onboarding your cleaner. 

Safety first

What else will your cleaner need to work in your home? If they will be cleaning the tops of cupboards, or removing cobwebs from high ceilings, provide a safe stepladder for them to use. Check that any extension cables are safe too, with no bare wires or visible damage. Don ’t forget to include rubber gloves in your cleaning kit to protect your cleaner’s hands while they work. 

Access granted

If you won’t be at home when your cleaner visits, you will need to discuss access arrangements. If you have a key safe, show your cleaner how to use it and give them the code. Of course, if you have a security alarm, your cleaner will need to know how to turn it off, and how to reset it when they leave. 

Will your cleaner be travelling by car? Make sure you share any parking restrictions so they don’t land a parking ticket, or annoy your neighbours by blocking driveways. 

The basics 

Of course, it’s essential that you agree a rate of pay as part of onboarding your cleaner. Even if you feel awkward talking about money, this conversation is one you really can’t avoid. Do your research on typical rates of pay for cleaning in your area, in advance. The Real Living Wage is a great guide to how much you should pay per hour. And remember, if you pay your cleaner fairly, they are more likely to stick with you for longer. Consider paying sick pay and holiday pay too. Agree how you will pay for your clean (monthly or weekly, cash or direct into their bank) and stick to it.

A perfect team

When you are onboarding your cleaner, make sure you ask for their feedback. Your cleaner is a professional and may have some great suggestions that will help them work more efficiently, and provide you with an even better clean. 

By getting your onboarding meeting right, you can set the foundations for a great working relationship with your cleaner, so you can look forward to the clean you deserve at every visit. 

Is cheap cleaning cost effective?

When budgets are tight, it’s tempting to bag the cheapest deal for your workplace cleaning service. But is cheap cleaning really cost effective for your business?

That initial price tag might look appealing, but there are hidden costs and consequences to opting for cheap, lower quality cleaning services.

Productivity and employee wellbeing

Evidence shows that your workforce is more productive in a clean, ordered and pleasant working environment. If your workplace is a nice place to be, employees feel happier and more valued. That’s going to increase productivity and reduce stress levels. It can also contribute to staff retention and reduced turnover too.

Sick days are a big cost to any business. And one study showed that over half of employees survey believed their workplace was making them ill. Dirty kitchens, bathrooms and workstations were all held to blame for spreading germs and causing sickness. So what you’re saving on cheap, poor quality cleaning, you may well be spending on sick pay.

Cutting corners

Is your cheap cleaning service cutting corners on essentials such as training? If the cleaners working in your workplace have not had the right training, it could result in damage to your property or equipment. It is vitally important to use the correct cleaning methods, especially on delicate surfaces. A cheap cleaning service could land you an expensive bill for repairs.

And it’s not just damage to your property that’s at stake. Professional cleaners understand safety protocols and use proper cleaning methods, minimizing the risk of accidents and legal action. Cheap cleaning often overlooks these crucial aspects, putting your business at risk.

First impressions count

In a competitive market, first impressions matter. A clean, well-maintained office speaks volumes about your professionalism and commitment to quality. Bring clients, customers and visitors into a grimy, poorly cleaned environment, and you are risking damage to your brand image and reputation.

Getting to know you

A great cleaning service will intimately understand the needs of your business. And they will make sure their operatives understand that too. But a low quality cleaning service will often experience high turnover of staff, so that relationship doesn’t have time to build. That can mean you are spending time explaining your needs, only to have to repeat yourself just a couple of weeks later, when the new cleaner arrives.

Is cheap cleaning your dirty secret?

Cheap cleaning services, engaged in a never-ending race to the bottom, often means low pay, poor working conditions for their cleaners. Ask yourself – does it align with the values of your business, if you are saving on your cleaning budget at the cost of the person doing the cleaning?

The cost of cheap cleaning

Opting for the cheapest cleaning service might seem like a quick win, but it often leads to hidden costs and negative consequences down the line.

A reputable cleaning company prioritises quality, safety, and professionalism – and that reflects well on your business too. It’s an investment that will pay off in employee well-being, productivity, protected assets, and a positive reputation – all crucial for success for today’s businesses.

How to pay your cleaner

Hiring a cleaner can be a great way to free up your time and take care of your home.

But you might be worrying about how to pay your cleaner. How much should you pay – and how can you make sure you are paying your cleaner fairly? Here are my tips.

Do your research

Find out the going rate for cleaning in your area. Remember that the cost of cleaning will vary from area to area. If you live in a city, you can expect to pay more per hour than in more rural areas. In London, costs are higher still.

Offer a fair rate for your cleaning and you are more likely to attract a great cleaner to work in your home – and they will stay for longer. By paying your cleaner the Real Living Wage, you can be confident you are paying a fair hourly rate. Check here for the latest rates.

What’s included?

As well as the time spent cleaning your home, when you are working out how to pay your cleaner, there are other considerations to include.

You can expect to pay for travel time to your home, so make sure you include this.
Will you pay holiday pay? Choosing to do this will make a huge difference to your cleaner. You can read the government guidance on how to calculate holiday pay here. This guide from ACAS is also helpful.

Have you considered how to pay your cleaner if they are sick? Research shows that many cleaners feel they have to work when they are unwell, because they do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. By paying your cleaner sick pay, you will be contributing hugely to their wellbeing.

Arranging your cleaning through an agency eliminates the hassle of working out how to pay your cleaner. A reputable agency will deal with all of this for you, so you can relax and enjoy your clean, calm home.

What’s the budget?

How much can you afford to pay for your cleaning? If you have a budget in mind, and you know the hourly rate for cleaning in your area, you will be able to work out how many hours of cleaning you can afford.

Then it’s time to contact potential cleaners to see if they are a good fit for you and your home.

Talking about pay

Many of us feel awkward talking about money. And discussing pay with a potential cleaner is no exception. But by making sure everyone is clear about the pay rate from the beginning, you will avoid problems and misunderstandings down the track.

Agree the number of hours your cleaner will spend on each visit, or which tasks they will complete – and how much you will pay for the work.

Talk to your cleaner about whether monthly or weekly payment is best. Agree how you will pay your cleaner (cash, cheque, or via your bank) and stick to it. One thing I insist on with my Helper is paying them at the beginning of the month rather than the end. This gives them cashflow security and peace of mind.

Of course, you should always pay your cleaner on time. This will help you maintain a great working relationship, as well as being a sign of your respect for them and their work.

Gifting and tipping

You may feel you would like to recognise religious festivals or special occasions with a gift for your cleaner. This is a lovely way to show your appreciation for their work.

Instead of giving wine or flowers, consider paying your cleaner a cash bonus. If you would prefer to give a voucher, Post Office Gift Cards are a great option as they can be used in a wide range of shops.

Final thoughts

When you are deciding how to pay your cleaner, there’s a lot to think about. But get it right, and you can be confident you can enjoy a clean conscience as well as a clean home.

Why do Women End Up Doing All the Housework?

In the ever-evolving landscape of gender roles and expectations, it’s disheartening to witness that even in 2023, women often find themselves shouldering the majority of household chores. A Guardian survey shows that they feel they end up doing all of the housework. Covid lockdown revealed that between 60-70% of women and girls assumed a greater responsibility for housework and cooking than their make counterparts. Despite the progress made in various aspects of gender equality, the division of housework remains a prevailing issue. Surprisingly, the guilt associated with seeking external help for domestic tasks adds an extra layer of complexity to the situation. In this blog, we delve into the root causes behind this. We explore ways to challenge these norms and enable us foster a more equitable and supportive home environment for everyone.

Understanding the Household Gender Divide

Historically, societal norms have assigned specific roles to men and women within the household. Traditional gender roles have perpetuated the notion that women are primarily responsible for maintaining the home, while men focus on external responsibilities. Despite significant advancements towards gender equality, these deeply ingrained stereotypes continue to influence household dynamics.

The Emotional Labour Factor

Beyond the physical aspect of housework, there’s another dimension at play: emotional labour. This refers to the mental and emotional effort involved in organising and managing a household, including planning, delegating tasks, and remembering various responsibilities. Women often find themselves disproportionately carrying this burden, which can lead to burnout and a sense of emotional exhaustion.

Societal Expectations and Pressures

Societal expectations further exacerbate the household gender divide. Women may feel judged or criticised if their homes don’t meet certain standards. This can be the case even if they are juggling multiple roles and responsibilities outside the house. As a result, they may internalise the belief that seeking help signifies a personal failure, rather than a pragmatic decision to alleviate the workload.

Breaking Free from the Guilt

Recognise and Challenge Gender Norms: Acknowledge that traditional gender roles are outdated. Both partners in a relationship can (and should) share household responsibilities in a way that suits their individual strengths and preferences.

Open Communication: Encourage open and honest conversations about household chores and the emotional labour involved. Discuss how each partner can contribute effectively and support each other in maintaining a balanced and harmonious home.

Seeking External Help is Empowering: Embrace the idea that seeking professional cleaning help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a practical step towards reclaiming time for activities that truly matter to you.

Share Responsibilities Equitably: Create a schedule that allocates tasks fairly, considering each person’s availability and abilities. Rotate responsibilities regularly to ensure a sense of shared ownership.

In 2023, it’s crucial to challenge the norms that perpetuate the gendered division of household labour. By fostering open communication, challenging stereotypes, and embracing external support, we pave the way towards a more equitable and guilt-free future for everyone. At Just Helpers, we have a mixed gender team. We provide top-notch cleaning services to households across London. This contributes to a fairer distribution of responsibilities and allows individuals to reclaim their time and energy. 

Together, let’s build a society where everyone can thrive. Let’s stop being weighed down by outdated expectations and make sure that the womenfolk are not left holding the baby while doing all the housework.

How to Ethically and Responsibly Hire A Cleaner

Figuring out how to hire a cleaner ethically and responsibly can be a dizzying minefield! In this blog post, we present you with a step-by-step guide to hiring a cleaner with integrity. By following this, it will allow you to make responsible choices for your home and office cleaning needs.

We list the 9 things we think you should check when selecting an ethical cleaning agency:

Step 1: Prioritise Ethical and Responsible Hiring

Firstly, when choosing a cleaning agency, you should prioritise ethical hiring. Therefore, seek out agencies that treat their cleaners with respect, fairness, and dignity, ensuring they receive the benefits they deserve.

Step 2: Research Ethical Cleaning Companies

Look at independent online reviews such as Trustpilot, Google and Facebook.  At Just Helpers, we take pride in providing our cleaners with a work environment that values their contributions. Our satisfied clients have attested to this, stating:-

“With Just Helpers, you see people who are being given dignity, in the work, during cleaning, and in other people’s homes, where they’re getting a decent wage, they’re getting holiday pay, et cetera, et cetera, all of those things are in place.”

Step 3: Choose Fair Wages

Opt for an agency that offers fair wages to its cleaners. The Living Wage Foundation are an independent charity that annually calculate the base rate for wages.  By doing so, you support an ethical work environment that values hard work and dedication.  We pay all our cleaners (whom we call helpers) the London Living Wage, which is above the minimum wage.

Step 4: Advocate Essential Benefits

Look for an agency that advocates for essential benefits such as holiday pay and sick leave. This ensures that cleaners receive the support they need for a healthy work-life balance.

“We heard about them from one of our previous cleaners, she worked for an agency which was deteriorating and I got the impression not caring for the staff as well as they might be, with the pay mainly, my really good cleaner was moving over to Just Helpers, so I checked it out online and then changed over too.”

Step 5: Transparent Job Descriptions

An ethical cleaning agency provides transparent job descriptions, clearly outlining the duties and expectations for cleaners. This, therefore, fosters, trust and respect between all parties involved.

Step 6: Encourage Open Communication

Effective communication is vital for ethical hiring. So, choose an agency that encourages open dialogue between clients and cleaners, ensuring that everyone’s concerns are heard and addressed.  Ask your agency how they manage that three-way feedback process between you, them and your cleaner.

Step 7: Prioritise Safety

An ethical agency prioritises the safety of its cleaners by providing the necessary equipment and ensuring safe work environments. This commitment to safety, without doubt, underscores the agency’s integrity.

Step 8: Embrace Diversity

Support an agency that embraces diversity and promotes an inclusive work environment. This ensures that all cleaners are treated with respect and fairness, regardless of their background or identity.

Step 9: Make a Difference

Lastly, by choosing an agency that ethically and responsibly hire a cleaner, you contribute to a positive difference in the lives of their cleaning team. It can mean the difference between an individual being able to afford fruit and vegetables verses fast food saver menus.

In summary, cleaning with integrity means choosing an agency that prioritises ethical hiring practices. At Just Helpers, we take pride in providing our cleaners (we call them helpers) with fair wages (we pay well above the Real Living Wage), essential benefits, and a supportive work environment. 

By selecting our services, you contribute to a cleaner world that values respect, fairness, and dignity for all.

Lose The Middle Class Guilt, Embrace Help at Home

It’s time to lose the middle class guilt! In our fast-paced, modern world, it’s no secret that time is a precious commodity. Balancing work, family, and personal responsibilities can often leave us feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. One way to regain some control and restore a sense of balance is by hiring help in your home.

Yet, many people struggle with feelings of guilt and shame when it comes to seeking assistance. We hear so many reasons why people are reluctant to hire a cleaner for the first or even subsequent time(s)

People say and think things like:

  • “I’m a working class girl, so I should be able to sort myself out.”
  • “I’m worried that the cleaner will think my flat is messy”
  • “Should I clean before the cleaner arrives?”

In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s time to let go of those negative emotions, hire help in your home, lose the middle class guilt and embrace the idea of outsourcing household tasks. Allowing you to reclaim your free time and focus on what truly matters.

Here are 5 reasons why hiring a cleaner is worth it for your mental health and wellbeing:

1. Redefining the Meaning of Success:

Society often glorifies the idea of the “superwoman” or “superman” who can juggle multiple responsibilities effortlessly. However, this unrealistic expectation can lead to burnout and prevent us from recognising our limitations. By redefining success, we can shift our perspective and understand that it’s not about doing everything ourselves. Rather, creating a harmonious balance in our lives. Hiring help in your home is not a sign of weakness; but a conscious choice to prioritise your well-being and happiness.

2. Embracing Self-Care:

Self-care has become a buzzword, but its importance cannot be overstated. Taking care of yourself is not a selfish act but a necessity. When you hire help in your home, you’re freeing up time that can be dedicated to self-care activities. Whether it’s reading a book, going for a walk, or indulging in a hobby. Having extra time allows you to recharge and rejuvenate. Remember, by investing in your well-being, you become more productive and present in all areas of your life.

3. Strengthening Relationships:

When we’re constantly overwhelmed with household chores and errands, it’s easy for our relationships to take a backseat. Hiring help in your home can relieve the burden and create space for quality time with your loved ones. Instead of spending your weekends cleaning or running endless errands, you can engage in meaningful conversations, plan outings, or simply enjoy each other’s company. Prioritising your relationships helps cultivate deeper connections and strengthens the bond you share with your family and friends.

4. Professional Expertise and Efficiency:

Sometimes, household tasks can feel like time-consuming burdens, especially if we lack the necessary skills or knowledge. Hiring professional help allows you to tap into their expertise and experience. Whether it’s a cleaner, a nanny, or a personal chef, these professionals can efficiently handle tasks that might take you hours to complete. By delegating responsibilities, you not only save time but also ensure that tasks are done to a high standard, leaving you with peace of mind.

5. Setting a Positive Example:

By embracing the idea of hiring help in your home without guilt or shame, you’re setting a positive example for future generations. Breaking free from societal expectations and norms shows your children, friends, and colleagues that it’s okay to seek assistance when needed. It helps create a supportive environment where everyone can thrive without feeling judged for their choices. By normalising the concept of outsourcing, you contribute to a culture that values self-care and work-life balance.

Lose the middle-class guilt and shame associated with hiring help in your home and take a powerful step towards reclaiming your time, energy, and happiness. Prioritising your well-being and recognising the value of your time allows you to focus on the things that truly matter in life.

Remember, seeking assistance is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and self-awareness. So, let go of the guilt, embrace the freedom, and enjoy the abundance of possibilities that come with having more free time for yourself and your loved ones.

Pay for Cleaners and the Cost of Living

Right now, we have a national shortage of cleaners. At the same time, we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis. Is cleaning about to become a luxury only affordable to the super-rich?

Cleaners are in high demand, and pay for cleaners is spiralling. A recent report from the British Cleaning Council highlights a “perfect storm” of staff shortages in the cleaning industry. Migrant workers from the EU and Eastern Europe returned home following Brexit, former cleaners didn’t return after furlough, and others moved into other jobs. This has resulted in a record number of vacancies in the cleaning sector. And this raises some interesting questions about pay for cleaners.

How much should cleaners be paid?

At Just Helpers we have campaigned for years for cleaning work to be valued and recognised with decent working conditions and fair pay. All of our colleagues receive in excess of the London Living Wage, and we have championed the LLW across our industry. 

With the shortage of cleaners nationally, the value of their work has dramatically escalated. We are in exciting, uncharted territory when it comes to pay for cleaners. 

But perhaps we should also be asking – how much SHOULD our cleaners be paid? If we get caught up in the scramble to attract and keep cleaners, are we at risk of contributing to the cost of living crisis affecting all of us?

Cleaning and Affordability

Anecdotally, we are hearing reports of cleaning agencies in London offering £20 per hour to cleaners. This could mean that their clients are paying upwards of £25-£30 per hour for their cleaning – unaffordable to many households.

Is it right that cleaners are paid more per hour than a teacher, or a nurse? While cleaning is skilled work, most cleaners have not undergone formal qualifications. So how should pay for cleaners compare with these professional roles?

A new situation

In the current climate, the debate is not about whether cleaners are paid the minimum wage, or the London Living Wage. With their services in high demand, many agencies are willing to pay cleaners much more.

But if this wage inflation fuels the cost of living crisis, then cleaners, and all of us, feel the impact. As an ethical business, we have to ask whether letting cleaners’ pay spiral, is the right thing to do.

How much would you pay for your cleaner? 

Winner | Living Wage Advocate of the Year

I am delighted that we have been awarded ‘Advocate of the Year’ in this year’s Living Wage Champion Awards.

This award recognises our work promoting the Living Wage in the cleaning industry.

A Core Value

From the very beginning, Just Helpers Cleaning Agency have strived to pay above the Living Wage. Our cleaning team, who live in London, need to thrive in the city that they work and live in. And that means decent pay.

Workers in the cleaning sector are more likely to be female, racially diverse and non-native English speakers. My own experience working with anti-trafficking organisations showed me how vulnerable to to exploitation this population can be.

Sharing the Message

We were one of the first cleaning agencies in London to be recognised by the Living Wage Foundation. And as the founder of Just Helpers I have always promoted the London Living Wage both within our industry and beyond.

This means taking every opportunity to talk about the need for fair pay and decent working conditions in every sector. And with the current cost of living crisis, this is more important that ever.

The Cost of Cleaning

Our mission is to transform attitudes to cleaning services in the UK. So, I want everyone who engages a cleaner – whether in their home or business – to understand the real cost of ethical cleaning. It shouldn’t be about getting the cheapest service. It should be about valuing the expertise and skills of cleaners by paying the proper rate for their work.

Right now, the cleaning industry, alongside several other, traditionally low pay sectors, is experiencing major recruitment problems. We believe that by ensuring our Helpers receive above the London Living Wage, we can attract, and retain, skilled cleaning colleagues in a crowded market.

We want to share the message that the Living Wage not only benefits our colleagues, but also benefits us a business. And we hope that the Living Wage movement continues to grow as more businesses join. As a Living Wage Advocate, along with the Just Helpers team, I am so proud to be a part of it.

Recruitment Problems in Cleaning

For the first time in our history, we have recruitment problems. We are struggling to find Helpers to work with us.

In the past, sharing the benefits of working with Just Helpers – our great working conditions, paying at least the London Living Wage, our caring, supportive values – has been enough to attract the right people.

But now, we’re experiencing real difficulties. And we are not alone in our recruitment problems.

A recent report highlighted critical staff shortages in several sectors including retail, warehousing, airport baggage handling, cleaning, and hospitality. In fact, one quarter of medium sized UK companies are experiencing serious recruitment problems which threaten normal operations.

Why Recruitment Problems?

Anecdotally, we hear there’s unease amongst the sections of our communities who would often come to work for us. People who moved to live in the UK from parts of Europe such as Bulgaria, are feeling more uncertain. Since Brexit, they may feel unwelcome here. And the rise in the cost of living is adding to their worries. They are looking for higher pay than sectors like cleaning can afford.

Brexit Impact

Brexit has introduced restrictions on freedom to move to the UK for work. The emphasis is on highly qualified people, or those with skills which are under-represented in the UK workforce. Sadly, the list of Shortage Occupations” does not include many traditionally “blue collar” sectors such as cleaning. And with over 1.66 million active job adverts recorded in August 2021, UK job seekers are not choosing to work in cleaning.

The Pay Dilemma

You may be asking, why don’t we simply increase pay to attract people to work with us? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Small cleaning businesses may afford to do this, because their turnover is below the threshold for VAT. However, for medium-sized businesses like ours, the tax burden means that we cannot afford to increase pay without increasing our charges to our clients. And we know our clients are feeling the pinch too.

As well as the recruitment problems, this situation brings other ugly consequences. It plays into the “cash in hand” culture, which places workers at risk of breaking the law if they don’t declare their income. In addition, it further disadvantages bonafide, ethical businesses like ours who want to do the right thing.

So what is the solution to this recruitment crisis in the cleaning industry?

A Potential Workforce

There are thousands of people in the UK right now who are desperate to work, but are prevented from seeking a job because of their immigration status.

The war in Ukraine has brought refugees to this country who want to build a new life for themselves and their families. Ukrainian citizens who have family in the UK, or who are sponsored under the “Homes for Ukraine” scheme, can get a visa which enables them to work here.

However, for those outside of these schemes, the usual points-based immigration system applies, which means Ukrainians who could fill vacancies in sectors such as cleaning, would not be eligible.

In addition, in the UK there are many people who have fled countries other than Ukraine, who are unable to work. These are asylum seekers, who may have to wait months or years for their asylum claim to be processed. During this time they are not allowed get a job, and are trying to survive on as little as £5.66 per day. And under new plans from the UK government, those arriving through illegal routes may be sent across the world to Rwanda.

This seems illogical, as well as inhumane. In a situation which echoes that which brought the Windrush generation to our aid after the Second World War, we need people to fill our vacancies in these key sectors.

Allowing asylum seekers to work in sectors where we have a real recruitment crisis would help the UK economy. It would alleviate shortages on supermarket shelves, and reduce the need for price rises for consumers. And it would give real hope and dignity to people who are simply looking for a safe place to live.

Our Mission

Just Helpers was founded in response to the exploitation of vulnerable people in our cities – including migrant workers. We provide our people with decent working conditions, fair pay and the chance to reach their potential through support and mentoring.

We would welcome the opportunity to recruit people from Ukraine, and elsewhere, who share our values and want to be part of the Just Helpers family. Because we need them to grow our business, just as much as they need us.

Need a hand cleaning your home?

Life in London is demanding and time is at a premium. Get some sparkle back into your life and home with one of our domestic cleaning packages.

Looking for commercial cleaning?

We provide a regular cleaning service for offices and commercial premises in the Greater London area, helping you maintain a professional, healthy and productive work and business environment.

We’d love to chat with you, see your space and walk you through our process.

Call us

020 3995 4810 - Clients
020 3995 4821 - Helpers

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71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9JQ

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