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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 28/08/2001
Cleaning of the Council Offices



This report seeks approval, following the agreement to terminate the Council Offices cleaning contract which was given at the meeting of the Executive Committee held on 20th March 2001, to continue to operate the cleaning of the Council Offices using directly employed staff until such time that it is considered appropriate to re-tender the work.

The cost of directly employing the employed in this operation amounts to an absolute maximum of 56,268 which represents a small increase in the budget for the current year but which will be offset by savings in the (former) cleaning contract that have been carried forward into this financial year.

The progress towards reducing the use of cleaning materials that carry a risk of contamination together with the increase in the recycling of waste has been good and contributes towards the Council’s environmental agenda.
APPENDIX - F

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – 28TH AUGUST 2001

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Title:
CLEANING OF THE COUNCIL OFFICES

[Wards Affected: N/A]
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Summary and Purpose

This report seeks approval, following the agreement to terminate the Council Offices cleaning contract which was given at the meeting of the Executive Committee held on 20th March 2001, to continue to operate the cleaning of the Council Offices using directly employed staff until such time that it is considered appropriate to re-tender the work.

The cost of directly employing the employed in this operation amounts to an absolute maximum of 56,268 which represents a small increase in the budget for the current year but which will be offset by savings in the (former) cleaning contract that have been carried forward into this financial year.

The progress towards reducing the use of cleaning materials that carry a risk of contamination together with the increase in the recycling of waste has been good and contributes towards the Council’s environmental agenda.
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Introduction

1. The reasons for terminating the previous cleaning contract are set out in the report to the Executive Committee of 20th March 2001. In brief, the termination was a consequence of the failure of the contractor, despite many meetings and many exhortations, to provide sufficient staff with the appropriate commitment in order to be able to carry out the contract.

2. The offices accommodation should be regarded as part of the benefits package for staff and a good standard of cleaning not only contributes to the well being of staff but also contributes to the statutory requirement, placed upon the Council, to provide a safe place of work. The standard of cleaning had got to the point at which it was having a detrimental effect on the morale of the staff.

Summary of the Progress in Operating an ‘In-house’

3. The difficulty of recruiting and retaining staff has to be acknowledged. Currently ten members of staff are employed on temporary, part-time contracts (two members of staff are also employed on casual contracts to provide cover as necessary) although the proposed establishment is for 11 part-time staff. Also, in the short period since the cleaning contract was terminated in mid-February, six members of staff have been recruited and have subsequently left the service.

4. Changes have been made to the way the cleaning is carried out. Essentially this has been:


to operate a floor-by-floor flow cleaning system in which staff work in teams and provide cover and support to each other;

to vary the working times such that there is greater emphasis on evening work to consolidate the team approach; and

to start to introduce a ‘clean bin/dirty bin’ office rubbish collection to increase the rate of recycling

5. Notwithstanding the level of turnover, as the current staff adjusts to the new system, clear improvements in the standard of cleaning are starting to be achieved. That assertion is confirmed through the outcome of a staff satisfaction survey dealing with the standard of office cleaning.

6. In February 2001, a survey (the outcome of which contributed to the conclusion that the cleaning contract should be terminated) resulted in 140 responses and showed:

Satisfied 34%
Dissatisfied 66%

7. In July 2001, a similar survey resulted in 69 responses (to date) and showed:

Satisfied 70%
Dissatisfied 30%

8. Staff Representatives have also been consulted and have expressed satisfaction that there has been a significant improvement in standards since the work was taken back in-house.

Future Arrangements

9. It is clear that the marked improvements achieved in a relatively short space of time strongly indicate that the work should be retained ‘in-house’ until such time that it becomes appropriate to re-contract the work. Clearly there is still progress to be made as 30% of the staff remain dissatisfied and it is expected that improvements will continue to be made as the new staff gain experience.

10. Clearly the most significant challenge to whoever operates office cleaning is the finding of staff to carry out this relatively low-paid work with any enthusiasm. This is a particular challenge in this locality at this time of low unemployment and when there is so much competition for labour in the local service industries.

11. In respect of the recruitment of such staff, it has been seen to be an advantage to have local management who know the area and who have contacts amongst the local community. Also, there is no doubt that to be an employee of the Council carries a greater sense of pride in and commitment to the work.

12. To reinforce that sense of pride, given that the initial agreement was on the basis that new staff would be employed on temporary contracts, it is proposed that staff should be offered ‘permanent’ contracts of employment.

13. The staffing structure would be:-

Morning Shift (7am to 9.30am):

1 x supervisor (part-time)
2 x cleaner (part-time)

Evening Shift (6.00pm to 9.00pm)

1 x Supervisor (part-time)
7 x cleaner (part-time)

Implications for Waverley of a decision to retain the service ‘in-house’

14. The commitment given to the Executive Committee in March was that the service would be operated ‘in-house’ for an interim period at no additional cost. Effectively, that has been achieved. However, the financial analysis shows that, in a full year, there would be an increase in cost over the current budget year’s provision.

15. That needs to be balanced against the fact that, notwithstanding the decision to terminate it, the cleaning contract would have been re-tendered this year. It is unreasonable to suppose that the new contract price would have been contained within the current provision.

16. Further, the proposal to give the staff ‘permanent’ contracts of employment would not prejudice a future decision to contract the work. Your officers have advised that, under current interpretation of the law, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 would apply and that, as a consequence, any future contractor would be required to accept those staff as a condition of taking on the work.

Human Rights Implications

17. There are not considered to be any specific human rights considerations arising out of this proposal

Community Safety Implications

18. The following factors have been identified in relation to the impact of this report as part of the section 17 requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998:-

19. Although a limited application, the presence of a regular, committed workforce is likely to improve the security of the Council Offices at those times when the building is, of necessity, open to the public but when very few staff are present.

20. Also, it needs to be recognised that cleaning staff have all but unlimited access to the secure parts of the building where confidential and, potentially, sensitive information is not necessarily locked away and where equipment such as telephones is readily accessible. The implied term of trust and confidence that exists in an employment relationship should give the Council more reassurance that such access is not going to be abused.


Resource/Environmental Implications

21. The estimated full cost of directly employing the offices cleaning staff is 56,268 a year. This figure presumes that all staff directly employed will take up the option of membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme. However, it is likely that there will be some saving in the full cost due to the anticipated level of turnover. At an estimated saving level of 5%, this maximum cost is likely to be in the region of 53,500. This reduced estimate is consistent with the current level of on-going expenditure.

22. In addition, the cost of cleaning materials is estimated at 2,000 a year giving a total expenditure of 55,500

23. This compares with the contract cleaning budget provision in the current year of 49,232.

24. In the current year, savings from the terminated contract, which have been brought forward into the current year, will offset the additional expenditure.

25. Appropriate budget provision for offices cleaning will be made in the (draft) estimates for the year 2002/03. However, as mentioned earlier the cleaning contract would have been re-tendered this year with the probable consequence that the cost of the contract would have risen.

26. Notwithstanding the current year’s position, it should be noted that additional expenditure on the cleaning function would be chargeable to the sum of 3,500 in the Housing Revenue Account for the cleaning of Montrose House, Farnham. This will no longer be required once the Housing staff in that building have been relocated to the Council Offices in Godalming.

"Opportunities for All" implications

27. Although there will, inevitably, be some reliance on “word of mouth” recruitment for such staff, the Council’s formal recruitment procedures will apply to the appointment of staff to ensure that the Council’s Equal Employment Opportunities Policy is adhered to.

Recommendation

The Council be recommended that:-

1. the offices cleaning function should continue to be delivered by directly employed staff;

2. the status of the staff currently employed to undertake work be changed from temporary to permanent; and


3. the anticipated additional cost in the current year should be off-set by financial deductions made from the terminated contract that were carried forward into the current year.

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Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Richard Wood Telephone: 01483 869387
E-mail: rwood@waverley.gov.