Tribunal awards damages to underpaid hotel cleaners

29 June 2010 by
Tribunal awards damages to underpaid hotel cleaners

Thirteen room attendants working at a five-star London hotel have won back pay and damages after it emerged they were being paid below the minimum wage.

Last July a joint investigation by the BBC's Newsnight and PM programmes revealed how contract cleaning company Hotelcare ]( breaking the law by paying some of its room attendants less than the minimum wage.

At the time, the minimum wage was £5.73 per hour, and it has since risen to £5.80 per hour for workers aged 22 years and older.

On average, the room attendants worked more than 40 hours per week, but were often paid for only half that.

They had signed agreements specifying they would be paid a minimum wage hourly rate, but when they received their wage slips, they discovered the agency had instead paid them according to the number of rooms cleaned - a practice that has been exposed before.

The cleaners worked in a prestigious five-star hotel, operated by [Park Plaza Hotels](, which charges upwards of £140 for a single room. They were given just 20 minutes to clean each room, but despite their best efforts they could not achieve this.

After the BBC broadcasted its findings, 13 room attendants took their case to the Employment Tribunal, represented by the Fulham Law Centre. They claimed they had been underpaid by Hotelcare, as well as a previous employer, and that the correct records had not been kept, which is an offence under minimum wage legislation.

The case was recently settled, with substantial payments made to each room attendant by Hotelcare and another employer, [Omni Facilities](, according to the BBC. Under the terms of the agreement reached, neither the room attendants nor their solicitors were allowed to comment on the settlement.

In a statement, Park Plaza Hotels said it would continue to monitor Hotelcare's employment practices: "Park Plaza is pleased that Hotelcare has completed its investigation into employee grievances and understands that a settlement has been reached. It remains extremely important to Park Plaza that our hotels continue to meet very high service and cleanliness standards, and as a result, we will continue to monitor Hotelcare's compliance with the terms of our new agreement."

A spokesperson for Hotelcare said that it is not able to comment on the case due to its confidential nature. "However, Hotelcare wishes to emphasise that all its employees receive at least the national minimum wage, she said. "As a leading hotel cleaning company, Hotelcare Lts is dedicated to ensuring that all employees are treated lawfully, as well as fairly and ethically, and it has the necessary systems in place to achieve these goals."

Hospitality targeted for national minimum wage investigations >>

TUC backs 20p rise in national wage >>

Rogue hoteliers are paying staff below the minimum wage >>

By Janet Harmer

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