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Is Your Janitorial Company Breaking the Law? The Risks of Using Independent Contractors

In every industry, there are companies that engage in questionable business practices, and the janitorial industry is no exception. One of the most common unethical practices is misclassifying employees as independent contractors to save money on taxes. This not only skirts the law but also often exploits workers, particularly immigrants.

A Case Study: Jan-Pro in Washington, DC

A notable example of this occurred in Washington, DC, in 2022. According to the DC Attorney General’s office, Jan-Pro was involved in a “multilevel franchising scheme that misclassified janitorial employees as independent contractors.” They enticed janitors to sign “franchise agreements” with promises of financial independence and entrepreneurial success. In reality, these janitors functioned as Jan-Pro’s employees but were denied the wages and benefits they were entitled to under the law.

When a cleaning company exercises substantial control over working conditions, methods, and pay rates, the workers are legally considered employees, not independent contractors. By misclassifying these workers, Jan-Pro avoided paying certain employer taxes and shifted the financial burden onto the workers, many of whom ended up earning less than minimum wage.

Why Hiring a Legal and Ethical Cleaning Company Matters

If you contract with a janitorial company that engages in such practices, your company could face several consequences:

  1. Reputation Damage: Public lawsuits, especially those involving mistreated workers, can tarnish your company’s image.
  2. Service Disruption: Legal issues could cause your cleaning vendor to quit without notice, leaving you without services.
  3. Quality Issues: Underpaid workers might rush through tasks to make ends meet, resulting in poor quality cleaning.
  4. Ethical Concerns: If you care about ethical work practices, it’s crucial to ensure your vendors share those values.

Should You Hire a Company Using Independent Contractors?

The answer isn’t straightforward. There are legal and ethical ways for janitorial companies to use independent contractors. However, these companies can’t direct the work or dictate cleaning methods, limiting their ability to make changes. If you’re considering a vendor that uses independent contractors, thoroughly investigate their business practices to ensure they are operating legally and ethically.

A Safer Option: Companies That Hire Employees

A more reliable choice is to partner with a janitorial company that hires its own employees, manages and oversees their work, and prioritizes their well-being. These companies are more likely to provide consistent, high-quality service and operate within the bounds of the law.

In summary, while some janitorial companies may offer lower prices by using independent contractors, the potential risks and ethical concerns may outweigh the benefits. By choosing a company that treats its workers fairly and follows legal guidelines, you can ensure better service and avoid potential legal and reputational issues. If you’re looking for a cleaning company that meets these standards, we’re here to help.

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