The British Cleaning Council (BCC) has written to the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets, asking for a meeting to discuss several issues that are germane to the cleaning sector and the recovery from coronavirus.
The request for a private meeting with minister Paul Scully comes after the BCC was consulted by the government about the official national guidance it issued in May to businesses about how to guarantee that workplaces are free from the virus.
Following that discussion, the BCC has asked for a one-to-one meeting with Scully to highlight the further steps it believes are needed to support the cleaning sector and the economy as a whole.
The BCC recommends the following steps.
• Expanding the national coronavirus testing programme, so all cleaning operatives outside of the healthcare sector who are working and are therefore key workers can benefit without the need to show symptoms. Currently, some key worker cleaning operatives are only entitled to testing if they have symptoms while colleagues in the same key industry do not need to have symptoms before requesting a test.
• Clarifying the requirements for facemasks and face coverings in order to assist staff and clients.
• Government-backed training to be developed to raise the skills levels of cleaning operatives to assist in removing any definition of ‘low-skilled migrant workers’ and, in doing so, allow trained resources to continue to work in the sector should the immigration bill come into force next year as planned. In many areas, the cleaning sector currently employs large numbers of migrant workers and the aim is to ensure that all staff, regardless of origin, are fully and comprehensively trained to deal with hygiene matters up to and including a pandemic. In this way, the country can continue to rely on and be thankful that cleaning and hygiene operatives remain as members of the country’s front line hygiene defence.
• An industry-agreed hygiene standard for businesses reopening after the lockdown, to ensure a British standard requirement which is clear for all, resulting in both safety and increased confidence for workers and customers.
BCC deputy chair Jim Melvin said: “It is now universally acknowledged that we in the cleaning sector are playing a significant and crucial role in assisting and tackling the coronavirus pandemic and our work will continue to be essential during the recovery if the UK is to return to a semblance of normality.
“We want to make sure that we do all that we can to assist the government with expert advice on the steps that need to be taken to help support the UK’s business community as a whole and, as the voice of the industry, ensure the government is aware of the support that our sector needs.
“The fact that the BCC has been consulted by government about how to keep businesses safe from coronavirus is a welcome and encouraging sign that the importance of the cleaning sector is being recognised at the highest level. A meeting with minister Paul Scully on a one-to-one basis is the best way to take that forward.”