National cuts in government funding for the public services, trickling down through our local councils, has left many sectors feeling the pinch. This has resulted in vital services, once provided by the council, becoming the responsibility of the individual sector in question. For many, outsourcing these services to specialist companies has become the best solution.
Tyneside schools are a prominent example of this; alternative arrangements for cleaners had to be found when the council gave intent to remove this service in April. Instead of having in-house cleaners, many opted to use the services of cleaning companies.
Barry Sleightholme, Business Development Manager at Newlife Cleaning Systems, has worked closely with some of these local schools to provide them with new cleaning services. He explains why outsourcing cleaning has become a viable option for these services.
What are the benefits of outsourcing cleaning?
The main benefit is that you are releasing your cleaning department to another company, who is professionally qualified to provide you with everything you need. You can expect a high level of delivery, quality, and uniformity with a contractor’s service. Alongside this, every issue surrounding this department becomes your contractor’s responsibility. This can include any staffing issues, the standard of cleaning, the procurement of products and supplies and the organisation of the whole operation. With someone else taking responsibility for all of these tasks, you and your staff can focus on other duties.
Won’t the quality of work decrease?
The quality is more likely to improve when you outsource your cleaning. Contractors promise an excellent result, which they then go to great lengths to maintain. They ensure monthly site inspections from the area manager, who makes sure that the cleaning is at the highest standard possible.
It is also this area manager’s job to respond to any concerns or feedback you have, so you have direct contact with them at all times. When speaking to the schools we worked with, we found that they preferred this instant contact with the company, as they found that queries they had with public sector cleaners had to travel through a number of official channels before they were answered. Through direct contact, any issues with staff or damaged equipment can be resolved immediately through a phone call, which keeps the standards at a consistent level.
Will the cleaning staff I currently employ be out of a job?
No, they will instead become employees of the cleaning contractors you outsource to. There are laws in place to protect them from loosing their jobs, or any of their employment rights, if you choose to outsource.
TUPE Regulations, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) are in place to protect their rights. This law states that employees’ contracts and job titles must not be altered at all if you hire a contractor to run the department they work in. The contractor must duplicate the employee’s contract exactly and keep every detail the same. For example, when we worked with the schools, many of the cleaners previously worked for the council, and had benefits which were unique to the public sector. When we became their employers, we duplicated these job benefits in full.
This included the matching of existing pension rights, by working with a national provider which possess the required GAD certificate, to facilitate LGPF comparables.
The contractors also become responsible for any CRB clearances, holiday cover, sick cover, payroll, pensions, administration and HR- including disciplinary and grievance issues; every staffing issue becomes the contractor’s responsibility.
What services will I receive if I outsource my cleaning?
Usually, you will receive two different types of cleaning from your contractor.
The first is daily cleaning, which maintains the day-to-day appearance of the building. When working with the schools, we provided cleaners in the mornings or afternoons depending on their requirements, during term time.
The second is deep-cleaning, which is more extensive work that takes me a bit longer. This could be anything from stripping the floor, to kitchen extraction, window cleaning or external grounds maintenance. Working with the schools, we found it best to do this in non-term time, but cleaning contractors will always work with you to find what is best for your company.
What if there was a service I needed that my contractor couldn’t supply?
If your contractor couldn’t provide something in-house, they can usually provide a sub-contract supplier for you, who you could deal with directly. For example, none of our window cleaners are trained abseilers, but we work with companies who have them, who could provide some if they were needed.
Can it really be cost-effective to outsource to a private company?
When you consider all that outsourcing can include, you will find that it can truly be a cost-effective option for your company. A way we cut the overall costs for the schools, was to look at some of the extra services that they were paying for, to see if we could provide them more cheaply.
For example, the schools were spending additional funds on paper products, such as toilet roll and paper towels, as well as soaps and hand creams. We have access to these products, so we helped the schools make a saving by providing them at cost price. We also assisted them with water management; by controlling the water tanks in the urinals, water costs can be reduced by 80%. Finally, we helped the schools we were working with to cut down the costs of security. The school was charged by the council each time the police were called to a break-in; I reduced the costs by using one of our security suppliers, who was available to visit the building after break-ins.
These little adjustments can be made within any public sector, and result in big savings overall, making outsourcing cleaning as cost-effective as it is high quality.
If you are interested in outsourcing your cleaning department, or would like to know more, Newlife Cleaning Systems welcome your enquiries. You can visit www.newlifecleaning.com, telephone 0800 018 9099 or contact Barry Sleightholme in confidence on 07720 461 582.