Labour Inspectorate plans cleaning “blitz”

The Labour Inspectorate will carry out random audits on as many as 60 cleaning companies across the country over the next five months as part of its renewed focus on the cleaning industry.

National manager of the Labour Inspectorate Stu Lumsden told INCLEAN NZ the spot check “blitz” will be conducted to ensure employers are in compliance with employment and record keeping standards.

“The reason we started to focus on the cleaning industry is because we started to see it as a race to the bottom, and the problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win,” Lumsden told INCLEAN NZ.

“It’s our intention to do a blitz and spot check as many as 60 cleaning businesses between now and April.”

Labour inspectors have the power to enter any workplace, interview any person, employer, or employee at the site, and seek copies of wage, time, holiday and leave records. If an employer has committed any breaches of their basic obligations to retain wage, time, holiday and leave records, or provide employment agreement, an infringement notice will result in fines of $,000 per breach up to $20,000 in any three month period.

Any employer issued an infringement will be placed on the stand down list which prevents them from sponsoring visas to recruit migrant labour for six months, and 12 months if more than one infringement notice is issued. Serious breaches may be taken to the Employment Relations Authority.

The Labour Inspectorate has also worked with government to set up a procurement branch, to ensure cleaning services are compliant and meeting minimum employment standards.

“The government is the biggest purchaser of goods and services in NZ and we want to influence when government purchasers occur. If we’re going to purchase cleaning services we want to make sure that those cleaners have the minimum employment standards in place. Through that we hope to influence the wider industry. [Cleaning companies] will realise if they want those lucrative contracts they need to make sure they have their house in order.

“Being caught out and not paying your people can have serious consequences. Not just for your bank balance but for your brand. When you know that everyone in your supply chain is being paid correctly you have a positive story to tell as a business,” Lumsden said.