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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47417
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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We have a contracted cleaner office years.

Resolved Question:

We have a contracted cleaner for our office for several years. Recently we have raised the fact that we pay for 2 hrs/eve (2 eves per week) but they are only at the office for <1 hr. We have also raised issues re: how well the cleaning is being done ie areas that are included in the contract are not complete (skirting board, chair legs, etc). The cleaner said he would address the issues re: standard of cleaning and had employed a new person to our account. The first week I emailed him to say that there had been some improvement ie the chair legs were done, but this did not continue. I therefore terminated the contract and we were in the 3 month notice period. During the last 6 months a couple of our payments to the cleaner were slightly late, which we remedied however, on at the start of Feb the cleaner refused to come that eve even though we were charged. All payments are completely up to date.
Last week, we checked on specific areas of cleaning (coffee stains on desks) and these were still not being completed. I emailed the cleaner and expressed my concern and asked if he would come in to chat through. He has refused to come in, he has also refused to do any further cleaning during the 3 month notice period and is demanding full payment across the 3 month and refusing to return our door key until paid.
I understand that our delayed couple of payments was breach of contract but an oversight but equally, his team not actually doing the cleaning that we pay for is also a breach and I do not feel that a) he can demand payment for the next 3 months when they are not actually cleaning and b) I feel very uncomfortable that he still has my office key.
I therefore need to know my legal standing before moving forward.
With thanks
Karen
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. firstly can you tell me if you have a signed contract for the cleaning for a period of time.

Customer:

yes, we have - it outlines what they are meant to clean and also t he notice period required if we terminate the agreement.

Customer:

thanks

Customer:

Also, my PA has outlined the full sequence of events and exactly how late the payments have been / correspondence, etc below:Payments to Dream Kleen have been late since October as detailed below. Prior to that I have the date the payment letters and cheques were prepared, however I am unable to confirm when these were sent.

On the 5th January we were notified of the change of staff cleaning our offices and correspondingly a change of dates they were able to clean.

This was responded to on the 6th January with agreement on staff and days. Concern was raised regarding the contract detailing 2 hours to complete the cleaning when actual time taken is about 40 minutes and areas of cleaning not being completed.

Paul responded the same day confirming he would make the cleaner aware of the actual requirements and requested notification if work was substandard.

Karen responded to Paul on the 7th January querying the contracted hours and incomplete work and suggested we would monitor this.

Paul responded the following day explaining he had cleaned the office with the usual staff member on the evening of the 7th, once again requesting Karen get in touch if the work not satisfactory.

Karen followed up on the 8th January expressing there had been improvement but not all the contracted work was complete.

On the 29th January we gave notice to Dream Kleen via email and on the 30th delivered the notice by hand to their office building.

On the 31st January Paul emailed regarding overdue payments, and that he had suspended the cleaning due to this. He requested payment for the outstanding amount on/before 2nd Feb otherwise interest and debt recovery costs would be enforced. He also informed us that he had suspended the service and we would be charged for the full notice period.

On the 2nd February a profuse apology was sent to Paul for the late payment due to an error regarding the payment date, and that we hoped this resolved the matter and service would continue.

Paul responded on the 7th February in a terse manner not accepting the apology and error that was given to him on the 2nd. He stated he would expect all invoices to be paid in line with their terms up to the termination of the service, otherwise service would be suspended and we would be charged, and the final invoice would be required to be paid in advance of service provided.

Karen responded on the 8th explaining the dissatisfaction regarding the standard of service, and that whilst in the 3 month notice period they are obliged to fulfil their commitments. A request to meet at the office before the next cleaning scheduled on the 11th February to discuss was made.

On the 9th February Paul expressed dissatisfaction with the late payments and his refusal to partake in any meeting. He explained he was terminating the service from this date due to late payment and the invoice will include service up to this date. On final payment he would arrange for the cleaner to post the key at the office.



































Due date



Paid



31/01/2015



02/02/2015



Late



01/01/2015



02/02/2015



Late



01/12/2014



05/12/2014



Late



01/11/2014



17/11/2014



Late



01/10/2014



06/10/2014



Late


Ben Jones :

OK thank you, ***** ***** it with me. I am in a tribunal today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you this afternoon. There is no need to wait and you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. I fully agree with you that you should not be expected to pay the cleaners for the remainder of the notice period if they are not actually willing to attend and provide their services. Your delayed payments may have been a breach of contract but it is unlikely to have been something so serious that the whole contract was then made void. Had you unreasonably refused to pay them for work they had carried out then it could be a more serious breach but you rectified the errors straight away. Assuming there has been no other serious breach on your part then they cannot just turn around and refuse to clean whilst demanding payment for the remainder of the notice period.

In fact it does look that they may be more in breach of contract because the standard of their work is rather poor and has not really been rectified after it was raised by you.

If they are unreasonably refusing to come in to clean then you do not have to pay them. It would be for them to pursue you for the money they think you owe them but they may have a hard time getting it as they are unlikely to persuade a court that this should be the case.

As to the issue with the key, whilst you cannot force them to physically return that, if you have tried to get it back from them by contacting them and requesting it, you can eventually consider changing the locks. The costs for that would be chargeable to them but again it is a bit of a risk doing that as there is no guarantee they will agree to pay it and you will have to pursue them through the courts. Instead you can advise them that you are withdrawing any permission for them to be on the premises and if they gain access it would amount to trespass and you will report them to the police. You could then leave the key with them and hopefully the threat you have made will make them stay away.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

Customer:

Thank you - I will inform our cleaner of your advise this morning. Best wishes Karen

Ben Jones : You are welcome all the best
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