What do you need to consider when outsourcing your cleaning contract?

One of the key issues to consider when outsourcing a cleaning contract is to ensure that the new contract doesn’t compromise the organisation’s security arrangements.

Staff and contractors need to work in a safe and secure environment, and an organisation can suffer severe reputational damage if a failure in this area leads to a major security breach. As businesses focus on the threat of data breaches and cyber attacks, many fail to realise that physical security is an important part of data and online security. Robust access control ensures that unauthorised people cannot make their way into controlled areas such as server rooms and data centres.

It often falls to the facilities manager to remind the organisation of the steps that need to be taken to maintain security when a new cleaning company is brought on board. Hopefully, the cleaning company’s attitude to security and the ability to prove that they are supplying vetted staff, will have been checked during the procurement process. However, given the inevitable turnover in cleaning staff, the checks need to be ongoing, with a process for ensuring that new cleaners are vetted thoroughly before they are allowed access to a building.

It isn’t just the threats of cyber attack and terrorism that need to be taken into account. The security of staff working in the building, particularly if they are working late, and alone, is also a concern.

Checks on the legality of the contractor’s staff

During any pre-contract checks, facilities management professionals need to ensure that their contractor’s procedures are thorough and robust. Many firms rely on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. However, someone with a false ID, or who is using someone else’s ID, can pass these.

The immigration status of new workers also needs to be checked and there’s a potential fine of up to £5,600 for every worker who is working illegally. There are even higher fines if the illegal workers are being exploited since the Modern Slavery Act would apply in these circumstances.

So, thorough identity checks are essential if services such as cleaning are to be contracted out. Because outsourcing and contracting-out are now such a large part of facilities management, it’s not uncommon for advertised jobs to stipulate management of contractors as a requirement. Recruitment of temporary or contract workers or management of a supply company are now required skills for facilities managers.

Continuing checks for contractors

Many FM professionals are considering introducing biometric checks. This is because, as with the DBS checks, ID passes are only useful if they are used honestly. The ID is frequently not checked if a worker is wearing the uniform of a contractor known to supply cleaners to the organisation. So it’s easy for someone to impersonate a contract cleaner, for whatever reason.

Facilities managers need to ensure that processes and checks are in place to pick up this kind of risk to the organisation. Otherwise, the cleaning contract can become a weak point in an organisation’s security arrangements.