research-report-96-coming-clean-contractual-and-procurement-practices.doc

The following implications for policy and practice to

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The following implications for policy and practice to encourage better training provision and better opportunities for career and skill development follow from our case study investigation of procurement and its employment effects: 1. Consider extending ‘License to practice’ requirements 17 to the commercial cleaning sector since these upgrade the quality of training provision and may also upgrade the price of labour. 2. Promote the incorporation of minimum required training levels among 17 As applied in the private security industry for example (Fernie 2011). 123
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COMING CLEAN: CONTRACTUAL AND PROCUREMENT PRACTICES qualified bidders in the procurement process to encourage better practice among suppliers. 3. Avoid short contracts because they are a disincentive against investment in skills. 4. Share the cost of skill investment between client and supplier and provide a comprehensive set of training programmes for workers. 5. Provide suitable formal mechanisms for cleaning workers to influence the nature of their job definition, and improve opportunities for discretion over what tasks to do, with whom and when. Better working time? The issue of insecure working hours and limited worker control over assignment of schedules is one of the key problems to have emerged from our case study investigation. In some cases, the organisation of working hours is strongly influenced by the client’s needs – the need to check-in new guests at the hotel, for example, or to meet the varying operational needs of different risk categories at the hospital. In some instances, such as the hospital, cleaning services may need to be more strongly integrated into the central business processes of the client organisation; there was considerable stress on the need for ward domestics, for example, to cooperate with client employees and to appreciate the shared objective of meeting patient needs. But employers also exercise strategic choice over when cleaning takes place - in the time of day, length of shifts, full or part-time and rotating days or fixed days. This was seen in the cases of the airport, college and council where suppliers suggested new ways of organising schedules and in the case of the bank, where it was the client who asked for a change of schedules for security reasons. High use of part-time work was favoured in some cases, as it fitted with cleaning schedules designed to meet client needs. Employers were also able to fill vacant shifts with the knowledge that low paid, underemployed part-time workers would be keen to top up their weekly income with additional hours – which, moreover, would not count as overtime hours and therefore only paid at the basic rate. Indeed, we found that while there is some variability in client demand for cleaning services, most of the need for flexible working hours derives from employers’ need to provide temporary cover, whether for shortfalls in staffing caused by high staff turnover, sickness or other reasons for absence. Influences on working time arrangements are shown in Figure 17.3.
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