Poaching a cleaner(16 Posts)
We occasionally use a large Polish cleaning company, which charges £14 an hour. The cleaners they sent never speak much English so we're not able to chat. But one time we had a Polish plumber in at the same time, who apparently asked one of them how much she earns, and the answer was only £5 an hour.
Could I, theoretically, ask one of the cleaners to work for me privately, and pay around £10 an hour? Has anyone tried this? Is it legal? Are there any pitfalls?
We need to employ a cleaner much more frequently now (I'm going back to work full-time) and £14 per hour for 4 hours every week is just a bit too much.
There's a bit in my contract that says I can't employ any of their cleaners for 6 months after the end of my cleaning contract. That said, I plan to do so - my cleaner says the company haven't got a clue what she does the rest of the time and its rather unlikely they will stake me out to find out!! Like you, I plan to pay her more than the company did. What does your contract say?
Theoretically, you can do anything. There are consequences.
If the cleaner's employer finds out there is every likelihood she'll be sacked, and assuming you won't be paying enough for her to live on each week she'll be stuffed.
You could advertise for a cleaner and employ directly. Out of that £10 you will have to pay the employment on costs, holiday pay and cover, mat leave, insurance etc. You could hire a self employed cleaner although would have to be very clear that she is self-employed (or you could be construed as employer and liable for costs).
You should call the agency and ask why they are paying under minimum wage.
It's not illegal, as said up thread it may be in breach of your contract. Also if the agency find out they may sack her. Also consider whether the agency has insurance, since she is unlikely to as an individual- what would you do if she broke something expensive? Final qu is how you would discuss things with her if she speaks no English, without the agency to translate.
If you are comfortable with all the above then go for it!
You can also ask the agency if you can employ the cleaner directly. I did this with someone that I had through a cleaning contract, and I paid the agency a "fee" for doing this.
Oh well. I just read the contract for the first time (!) and it said that if I employ their cleaner privately within 6 months, I'll have to pay the company £500. It's crazy!
I guess they're pretty strict about poaching. I remember during a previous cleaning job, I wanted to pop out to the shops and tried to leave my number with the cleaner. But she declined to take my number, saying that she would contact me via the company if there was a problem.
They have a business to run, I suppose...
Where else can I find a cleaner then? Is Gumtree safe?
Not sure where you live, but you could look for small adverts in coffee bars, shops. Do you have a local forum - we have one and there are always loads of cleaners offering hours and people looking ?
Or ask your friends who they use or if they have a recommendation
I bet your cleaner has a friend who doesn't work for an agency. You should ask her. Or I would risk the £500 myself and expect no one would know.
I recently looked at a cleaning job through an agency. It said that if I worked for one of their clients without going through them, they would sue me for loss of income.
If they were to find out that is.
So your cleaner could end up in hot water, not just you.
This was for 18mths after the client stopped using the agency.
Just an update: Well, two cleaners came today, and have now left. I had decided not to try and poach one (at least not today) but interestingly, at the end of the job, one of them approached me. He said he's starting a cleaning agency of his own, which charges £11-12 an hour. He winked and said we'd just "keep it between ourselves". I asked him to leave his card, but didn't commit then and there.
Argh, what a cut-throat industry Customers trying to poach cleaners, and cleaners trying to poach customers, and agencies doing everything they can to stop it...!
I'm not going to contact him. The risk of being sued for £500 completely defeats the purpose of saving a couple of pounds per hour. I'll check local notice boards and try to
gasp make a few friends locally.
I cannot believe I'm reading this! Is this the real world??
If a company had spend a lot of money on advertising, recruiting, hiring, training their staff then it is stealing to then cut them out of the deal and just take said trained staff directly.
Of course they want compensation - it's plain immoral and is stealing, also I do not believe for one minute a cleaning company is getting away with paying £5 per hour, cleaners grumble when they get £8 upwards per hour from our company, no way would any cleaner do the job for £5, I know cleaning companies who offer £7 per hour and NOBODY applies.
I suspect that the cleaning company is paying more than Â£5 per hour. Is this what the cleaner is getting net?
Of course the company is charging customers more than they are paying staff. That's how businesses work if they are complying with the law. The company will be paying holiday pay, sick pay, pension contributions, insurance. They will have office staff, maybe quality control, and be offering training.
As a pp said, if you are paing her direct, will you be employing her or will she be self employed? If she damages something in your house, will she have business insurance to cover that or will you have to claim on your house insurance?
I don't believe that it is terribly difficult to recruit and train domestic cleaners. I mean it's hardly a large investment is it?
I think that's really cheeky of them to pay the cleaners £5 an hour and charge you £14. They're breaking the law anyway as that's below the minimum wage so I can't see how they can sue anybody for poaching them. They're the ones who should be in court.
If they are paying £5 an hour then that is breaking the law. However, if they are paying minimum wage it's likely the cleaner is only receiving £5 an hour after deductions. If the OP hires the cleaner directly for £10 an hour, pays the requisite PAYE, NI, holiday pay, maternity pay, insurance etc etc then it's not likely the cleaner will come out with much more.
If the OP signs a contract saying she can't poach staff then she is in breach of that contract if she does.
Recruiting, managing and retaining cleaners is one huge headache. People seem to think it's an easy job, anyone can do it but in reality, not that many people have the reliability, diligence and care required to do it properly.
This business is my passion in life but I am actually having a wobble and considering closing us down because, a) it's just so hard to recruit and train reliable staff and even good ones still cause so many issues and b) to pay them a good rate (which we do in order to get anybody at all) means margins are so tight we will not make it through the VAT threshold, unless I pay myself nothing at all.
We are making so little money and I work around the clock, I don't know whether to push through all these obstacles and see if we can make it or just go back to cleaning myself when I had a much higher income and life was much easier with a smaller client base and no staff to manage, the profit after cost of doing business was all my own and there were no issues to deal with, i deal with at least one headache or issue almost every single day right now, the more we grow the harder it will become.
The only reason I'm saying this here is because some people have implied there is nothing wrong with stealing staff away from the company who invested in them. It takes a couple of months to train a cleaner before they can make you any money at all (unless you want quality issues and complaints) and the cleaners' wages during that period are a loss the company must invest in, I know you have to speculate to accumulate but I'm beginning to see we are going to have to raise prices (and we are already considered expensive) otherwise give up and just clean until we are too old. if people stole our staff during this make or break period we would go under without doubt.
I desperately need admin staff but can barely take a wage myself now so for all those who think there is huge profit in cleaning business ownership I would have a rethink, we charge around £15 per hour and that must go up, this is not a 'get rich' industry, you have to do it for the love of it not the money.
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