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Calling all cleaners! Don’t miss out on your entitlements…

Cleaners represent one of the most vital groups of workers in the country. Without them, homes would become unliveable, restaurants would become hazardous to health, and hospital workers would be unable to do their jobs. In short, cleaners are the invisible heroes of Australian society and deserve fair wages reflecting their crucial contribution.

Unfortunately, however, we’re hearing reports about unfair working conditions within the cleaning industry, with rogue employers failing to grant the correct entitlements to their employees. This is unacceptable behaviour that requires pushback.

Some employers rely on a lack of knowledge surrounding entitlements to exploit their staff members. Without access to information about topics such as superannuation or holiday allowances, cleaners may not be able to claim the entitlements they deserve. To tackle this problem, we’re put together a handy checklist below. Whether you’re a seasoned full-time cleaner with decades’ worth of experience or a part-time casual worker new to the industry, the following information will help you navigate the complicated entitlements landscape.

1. Know your award

Every employer and employee in Australia is tied to an award, a legal document stipulating minimum pay rates and employment conditions for their relevant industry. If you require information about your employment rights or entitlements, your award is the first place to look. 

Most workers in the contract cleaning sector are subject to the Cleaning Services Award 2020. As well as covering cleaners who regularly service office blocks, houses, and other types of buildings, the award covers event cleaning staff, trolley collectors, pollution control workers, and workers who carry out minor property maintenance. It doesn’t cover car washers, dry cleaning staff, or any other employees who are otherwise covered by the Hospitality Award or Retail Award. If you’re unsure about your award, your contract of employment should provide answers. 

2. Don’t forget about the importance of official employment documents

Before you undertake any work in the cleaning industry, you must ensure your prospective employers have provided a signed letter of employment, a detailed contract, and a job description that states your responsibilities and benefits in detail. Without these documents, you won’t be able to hold your employers to account for your working conditions. 

3. Remember to claim your travel allowance

Many cleaners are required to use their own vehicles to travel between job locations. As such, employers are legally required to cover the costs of this travel. According to the terms of the Cleaning Award, employers must compensate employees $0.80 per kilometre if they travel by car and $0.27 if they travel by motorcycle. While these figures may seem small, they quickly add up! Many modern cleaning companies provide digital logging systems that allow employees to input their miles travelled per week. If you don’t have access to such as system, you can easily keep track of your distance travelled by keeping an Excel log sheet or even a hand-written chart. Just remember to submit your expenses sheet with every pay cycle. It is also important to note that you cannot claim expenses incurred by travelling to and from work. 

4. Take sufficient days off

Even casual workers in the cleaning industry are entitled to two consecutive days off per week. Your employer is allowed to ask you to work extra if you’re happy with such an arrangement. In this case, you may be entitled to claim overtime penalty rates and boost your pay packet.

5. Claim your Long Service Leave where applicable

All cleaning companies in Queensland must pay an external party named QLeave a fixed sum every quarter to cover Long Service Leave entitlements for their employees. The money added to your account will accumulate over time, meaning you can take Long Service Leave regardless of how many times you’ve switched jobs and employers throughout your career. You can request a copy of your QLeave statement at any time and, eventually, use it to claim an extended period of leave.  

6. Make the most of your superannuation entitlements

Superannuation represents mandatory payment employers must make to your nominated super account every three months. As of June 2022, employers are required to make contributions that amount to 10% of employees' income. This will increase by 0.5% per year after 1st July 2022, until the rate reaches 12% from 1st July 2025. It is worth checking that your superannuation payments are made accurately and on time. While your retirement may seem like a lifetime away, you’ll regret ignoring the issue further down the line!

7. Don’t overlook your personal safety

Unless you’re contracted to a cleaning company and supply your own insurance and Australian Business Number (ABN), your employer should provide all the cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) required to complete your tasks safely. While you may feel invincible, many cleaners come across hazardous situations while doing their important work. As such, your employer must do everything in their power to keep you safe from harm. If they’re lax about your safety, you may need to mount a legal challenge. 

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for your entitlements!

Many cleaners are afraid to request their correct entitlements as they believe it could lead to dismissal. This simply isn’t the case! Laying off staff for standing up for their rights is an example of unfair dismissal and could represent a serious legal problem for your employer. 

9. Know your entitlements… and embrace your role!

Now that you know your entitlements, you’re in a great place to polish your skills and become an invaluable member of your team. For every rogue employer, there are plenty more who want to look after their staff members and help them make the most out of their careers. 

Looking for a new role? Clean Feeling is hiring!

If after reading this blog you feel like your current employer isn’t giving you what you deserve, find someone who will. Here at Clean Feeling, we pride ourselves on taking care of our team and providing them with everything they are entitled to, plus more. We understand that making your employees feel valued and appreciated is a key part of running any successful business. Our firm is currently going through an exciting period of expansion, and we are hiring for multiple roles in Mackay and Brisbane. 

Whether you’re an experienced cleaning technician or are breaking into the industry, If you’ve been looking for a company that puts its people first, check out our latest vacancies here

Please note:

The information above represents general advice and follows current Fairwork and National Employment Standards. Fairwork is always the best source of information about employment issues, and its current Facebook page and website offer answers to many questions. Failing that, you can always call them for more information. 

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