Cleanzine: your weekly cleaning and hygiene industry newsletter 23rd March 2023 Issue no. 1057
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I don't know how many years ago it was that I shared news here, that some staff employed to clean the UK's Home Office, not only didn't have the necessary work permits, but also didn't have leave to even be in the UK. I recall arguing, though, that it was wrong to expect employers to police the system and potentially receive heavy fines if they failed to do so properly, since they didn't have the resources or expertise to be confident in detecting fraudulent work visas. I've always felt that the responsibility for checking the validity of work permits, should rest with immigration and employment specialists - in the same way as our DBS/criminal record checking system works.
Almost a decade on, I learn that another senior official has been caught employing somebody she shouldn't, to do her cleaning. On this occasion, Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, is in trouble after a cleaner was found working illegally at her home. Going one stage further than being what's termed an 'illegal immigrant', the young woman concerned, believed to be from Nicaragua, had even been issued with a deportation order!
The PM revealed that she'd been assured by the owner of the company employing the cleaner, that everyone had the required work permits. It must be embarrassing to be put in such a position but the PM has even more egg on her face, since a focus of her leadership has been on eradicating the 'black economy'. In her inaugural speech last November, she appealed for people to take personal responsibility in fighting organised crime, calling it a "shamefully well-integrated part of the economy".
I recall learning, during my early days in this industry, that a major benefit of outsourcing services such as cleaning, is that by putting the service in the hands of experts rather than trying to handle it yourself, a more thorough and efficient job will be done, allowing you to concentrate on your core business. Surely the Swedish PM has more important things to do than investigate her cleaner's right to work and surely others in the country have better expertise? I hope she's able to use this experience to highlight her argument that more must be done to combat fraud and that it's taken seriously enough to get some more efficient systems in place in order to do so. I know some would consider working 'cash in hand' to offer perks, but a young cleaner working illegally in a strange country is being exploited, and in my view, deserves better.
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