QJS Services

Slave Labour in the Cleaning Industry

SLAVE LABOUR in the Janitorial Industry

Phrase: “To protect the corporation you must first protect your workers.”

In our current era, the term “slave labour” evokes an immediate negative response. Nevertheless, instances of such exploitation persist within various industries, particularly in janitorial services.

Allow me to share a story that unfolded within our organization, a situation that could unexpectedly occur to anyone.

One of our recently arrived workers in Canada was on a ladder behind a garage door when someone outside opened it, causing him to fall. This kind of accident is unpredictable, and it is in such unforeseen events that problems arise. We promptly called for an ambulance, but as soon as they identified the injured worker as an immigrant, the police were called, and we found ourselves under investigation for suspected “slave labour.”

The mere mention of such accusations instilled fear in us. Questions raced through our minds – did we follow all the protocols correctly? Was his paperwork in order? What could we be unaware of? Fortunately, our situation was swiftly resolved, as everything was legally compliant, and our worker received the necessary medical care.

Regrettably, we have heard of similar situations in our industry:

  1. Injuries occur, and individuals receive no medical assistance due to the fear of being exposed as working illegally in Canada, leading to the concealment of accidents.
  2. Sometimes when taking over a sizable facility, we are requested to interview existing staff. Just as we are about to hire them, we are asked to issue paychecks to family members, as the individuals are not legal workers.
  3. Companies choose janitorial services based solely on the lowest price, turning a blind eye to potential issues. They refrain from questioning why the contract is exceptionally cheap.

Despite the well-known principle that “ignorance of the law is no defense,” it often gets overlooked. Building Managers have a responsibility to safeguard the corporations they serve, and this entails protecting all those working on their behalf. Conducting thorough due diligence on any company you hire is imperative. This diligence is crucial not only to shield corporations from unintentional involvement in “slave labour” but also to protect immigrants arriving in Canada from being exploited as such.

Remember, to protect the corporation, you must first protect your workers. Ensure that you have legal workers, proper insurance, and workers’ compensation in place across all your facilities.