Hilton has agreed to overhaul its recruitment practices for housekeeping staff in London after a year-long investigation by campaign group West London Citizens uncovered labour abuses of agency staff.
Housekeeping staff employed by Hilton through recruitment agencies received pay below the national minimum wage, no holiday or overtime pay and suffered from harassment and bullying, the campaigners revealed.
After a series of meetings between West London Citizens and Hilton to discuss the complaints, the hotel group last week said it would centralise its recruitment processes with a pilot beginning in January as it seeks to reduce its dependence on agencies. About 800 of Hilton's 3,500 workers in the UK are employed by third-parties.
A review of agency staff employment practices has already seen Hilton reduce its suppliers from 12 to nine after an audit of payrolls.
Robin Derrett, vice-president of human resources at Hilton Hotels UK, admitted that the employment practices uncovered by West London Citizens were unacceptable.
"Agency staff wear the Hilton uniform. From the customers perspective they are members of our staff and they do not know they are being managed by someone else," he told Caterer. "It was not appropriate, not fair and not right: anyone that works for us should not get anything less than good-quality treatment."
West London Citizens found cases where the national minimum wage was not enforced because of a pay-per-room cleaned policy. Agency workers in three hotels were paid for cleaning 13 to 15 rooms in 7.5 to 7.25 hours every day, but workers who failed to complete the quota in time worked every hour afterwards unpaid. It also alleged that agency workers were being bullied and harassed by Hilton managers and agency supervisors.
Valerie Voak, co-chair of West London Citizens, said: "Hilton's London hotels are some of the most profitable in the world and business is booming. With the Olympics around the corner there is every reason to believe that London's hotels will make lots of money and we wish them well. But we want to make sure that the people in our community, who clean bedrooms so they are ready for tomorrow's guests, share the prosperity."
By Christopher Walton
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