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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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We currently employ a cleaner through a local cleaning franchise.

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We currently employ a cleaner through a local cleaning franchise. We have used the same cleaner for about 9 months and we have been happy with her work so far. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been noticing small tears and holes in some of the items that she has ironed. I had previously considered that it might be the washing machine that was causing the damage or even our two cats. The holes or tears are always near the seams.
Today, I noticed two items that have been ironed this morning had clearly visible rips in the fabric. I then noticed that the ironing board cover had been ripped and metal was showing through. I then looked at the iron (less than four months since purchased) had large scratches on it and then end had been damaged and very sharp. We don't do any ironing ourselves so we hadn't noticed the damage so far.
Our cleaner is often 20 mins. late and often appears rushed, but we have never been concerened until now. We have been informed by the cleaning agency that they can't make any insurance claims for iron damage. We were asked if we wanted to approach the cleaner ourselves and the agency didn't seem that concerned about the situation. They said that they will ask the cleaner to offer us compensation.
After a rough estimation of just some of the items that have been damaged, we believe that the cost of the damage is worth at least £150. I feel that our cleaner's actions can't be classified as normal iron damage. I believe her actions are negligent rather than accidental, especially as she has never expressed any concerns over the iron. I believe that the cleaning company isn't fulfilling its obligations as stated in their terms and conditions (Please see below). Can you advise me of how to proceed?
In performing its obligations under this XXXX shall use its reasonable care and skill.
where XXXX has not fulfilled its obligations to perform with reasonable care and skill under this Agreement or has failed to perform its obligations at all or to any significant extent;
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What are you hoping to achieve?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

To be compensated by the company in order to replace the damaged items.

So your contract is with the agency and they just supply a cleaner, who is not employed by you but is their employee?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

That is correct, they are employed by the agency.

And is the damage they have caused as a result of them doing their duties, or is it something unrelated?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The damage is a result of them doing their duties.

Do you know id this person is working as a self employed worker or a permanent employee?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't know. We pay the company £91 per quarter and we pay the cleaner £21 a week in cash.

This will be a potential matter of vicarious liability, where the employer is liable for the negligent acts of its employees. However, this is not an automatic liability and certain factors must be satisfied before you can claim. First of all there has to be an employment relationship, so if they are a self employed worker then it will be more difficult to prove that because you need an employer/employee relationship which a self employed one isn’t. Next, assuming this was an employer/employee relationship you will also have to show that the negligent act had a sufficiently close relationship with their duties. But this is if you want to pursue it down the legal route, which you do not have to. There are better ways to try and negotiate some sort of settlement such as by advising that you will terminate your contractual relationship with them, which may prompt them to reconsider and it may be better for them to pay you rather than lose a whole contract. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the steps you need to follow in the event you want to take this down the legal route, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

To what extent do the terms and conditions apply to the agency itself?

The terms you provided will not really change the position much - such expectations will likely be implied in any event. As to taking it further, whenever a dispute arises over compensation owed by one party to another, the party at fault can be pursued through the civil courts. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps: 1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the party at fault to voluntarily settle this matter. 2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the party at fault must be sent a formal letter asking them to resolve this amicably within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to pursue the compensation due. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action. 3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the other side and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this. Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.