months or less. Significantly, these new recruits made up around one half of the workforce of the three key employers: 55% of all workers employed by Initial, 54% of workers at Mowlem Pall Mall, and 52% of Lancaster’s workforce. KGB was the only exception with the largest proportion of their workers (56%) having been with them between one and five years.
The rate of pay in this sector was similar to the overall sample (Table 10). However, compared to the London Underground, fewer workers in this sector earned just the NMW and a greater proportion (52%) were earning between £4.86 and £5.50: the equivalent of between £9,097 and £10,296 a year before tax and National Insurance.
Between £4.86 and £5.50
Between £5.51 and £6.69
£6.70 and over
No response = 2
Table10: Hourly Rate of Pay for Office Cleaning and Other Services
Working conditions were also poor in this sector, although a slightly higher proportion of respondents reported access to employment benefits than in cleaning on the Underground. For instance, compared to the Underground in which over 80% had no annual pay rise, in office cleaning and other services 50% received an annual pay rise, although nearly one third had never had a pay increase in their job. Similarly, compared to the Underground, where 73% of workers lost income if they took time off to attend to emergencies, the corresponding figure for this sector was lower with just under one half of workers being penalised for taking time off in emergencies.
However, only a minority of workers (12%) contributed to a pension scheme, whilst 10% did not actually know if they contributed or not. One respondent, Patrick from Barbados, stated explicitly that he had no pension because he ‘can’t afford it with low wages.’ A similar proportion could not confirm whether they took paid holidays, suggesting that they were not aware of their entitlements, and a significant majority (65%) claimed not to take any at all. The same proportion as in the Underground did not receive sick pay (60%), and a proportion (13%) could not tell whether they did or not. Fewer workers in this sector, compared to the Underground, claimed to receive other benefits from employers, such as maternity or paternity leave (just 15%).
A significant proportion of workers had nothing positive to say about their job (35%). Others claimed simply that it provided an income. And as with cleaning on the Underground, social contact (16%) was also mentioned as a positive aspect whilst, in contrast to the Underground sector, a small minority (6%) identified the opportunity to care for people as a positive element of their work.
In terms of the aspects of their job which respondents disliked, as with cleaners on the London Underground, low pay was the prime concern (Table 11). Significantly, more workers in this sector than anywhere else reported low pay as the thing they most disliked about their job.