Thursday, April 06, 2006

Memoirs From A Canadian Maid

A Canadian reporter spent one month working for a maid service. She's detailed her plight in this article.

The article paints a dark, gloomy picture for the maid service industry. She claims that she is paid less than minimum wage for 40 hours of week. She also claims that the work is filthy and dirty. I'd like to address each of her points.

Point 1.........This is how she describes her compensation plan.

"You get 18-per-cent commission on every clean," she said. When I looked puzzled, she explained. A client typically paid $75 for a clean by two maids that lasted an hour and a half. I got 18 per cent of the clean, or $40 to $50 a day for cleaning four houses. Travel time was unpaid. That meant for a workday of 10 or 11 hours, I would be getting paid for only five or six. Apparently, calling it a "commission" gets around the minimum wage. When I looked unimpressed, she asked, "Can you drive?" A "route manager" gets two extra percentage points commission. I would get a pink and purple car. But I would have to drive, figure out the schedule, the route, keep time sheets and handle all the cash, cheques and, ominously, "non-payments." I'd work the longest hours because I'd have to pick up and drop off my teammate. On Friday nights, I would have to go to the office to cash out, and return all the keys. "Oh, and you have to wash the rags. We pay 35 cents per house. We don't use paper towels because it's too costly."

This compensation plan is the average compensation plan for most cleaning companies. Another common type of a compensation plan pays based on the number of homes cleaned in a day. In both cases, drive time is not paid to the employee. Here's how the compensation plan at TwoMaids works:

You get paid all day, whether you're driving or cleaning. Your primary salary is derived from customer feedback. You are also eligible for full medical/dental benefits and mileage reimbursement. You essentially write your own paycheck. The average employee works about 30 hours per week. Nobody ever works more than 40 hours per week. They can earn anywhere from minimum wage to as much as $10.75 per hour. We have some people that make $8 per hour and we have others that make $10.75 per hour. The average wage is about $9 per hour company wide. Which means that the average employee only earns about $270 per week, or just over $14,000 annually. That's not a whole lot of money. But, wait a minute. Remember, your only working 30 hours per week. Your home by 3:30 every day usually. Your never home after 5:00. If you ask me, it's not a bad paying job. Some of our employees work 40 hours per week and make as much $10.75 per hour. In other words, they make more than $22,000 annually. That's a great salary. Especially after you read this article. And, no...we don't require our employees to wash their dirty rags and mops.

Point 2.......This is how she describes the work.

Frisbee-sized stains of ochre urine encircle the base of the toilet. Feces splatter its rim and underside. The seat is streaked with old urine. Solidified toothpaste, spit, phlegm, beard stubble and pubic hairs -- how did they get there? -- coat the sink. The floor is thick with dust balls and more hair.

First of all, our employees would leave the home. I wouldn't clean it, so why should I expect someone else to clean it? Our employees are maids. The word "maid" gets a bad rap in this article. The author conveys a message that a maid is less than average and not respected. I'm sorry, but our "maids" are professionals. They clean because our customers don't want to clean. Just like accountants and real estate agents. You hire an accountant because you don't have the time to pour over your financials. You hire a real estate agent for the same reason.

Yeah, the work's dirty. It's not easy. You sweat alot. But isn't that the definition of work? If it were easy, you wouldn't need to hire us.

I don't normally allow comments on this blog, but I'm opening it up today. I want to hear your comments. Read the article and ask me questions about our industry. If you read it, you're going to think terrible things about the cleaning industry. Some of it is true about our industry. None of it is true about Two Maids & A Mop. Ask me and I'll tell you why.

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