Contract cleaning

Contract cleaning businesses provide cleaning services under contract. We have information and guidance for employees, employers and independent contractors in the contract cleaning industry.

Workers in the contract cleaning industry may be working for:

  • the business that holds the cleaning contract
  • another business that has been subcontracted by the business that holds the contract (known as a subcontractor)
  • a third-party labour hire service provider
  • a private household.

Entitlements in the contract cleaning industry

Workers in the cleaning industry will have different rights and obligations, depending on whether they are hired as employees or independent contractors.


An employee is a person that’s employed to work for a company on either a full-time, part-time or casual basis in exchange for payment.

Employees’ minimum entitlements are found in:

The NES are 11 minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees. For more information, see National Employment Standards.

An award is a legal document that sets out minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. 

A registered agreement or employment contract can provide for other entitlements, but they can’t be less than what’s in the NES or, broadly, the award that applies.

Independent contractors

Independent contractors provide agreed services under a contract for those services. They usually negotiate their own fees and working arrangements and can work for more than one client at a time.

Independent contractors are not covered by awards. 

For more information on workplace entitlements for independent contractors, see Independent contractors.

Employee or independent contractor

Whether a worker is an employee or a contractor is determined by the nature of the relationship, not what the arrangement is called.

Sometimes a business (or individual) may tell a worker that they are an independent contractor when in fact they are an employee. If the business knew or should have known the worker was an employee, this is known as sham contracting.

The Cleaning Award

If you’re an employee or employer in the contract cleaning industry, you’re most likely covered by the Cleaning Award

For more information on who the Cleaning Award does and doesn’t cover, see our Cleaning Award summary.

If you’re not sure which award applies to you, see Find my award.

Types of employment

There are different entitlements depending on whether an employee is:

For example, under the Cleaning Award:

  • full-time employees work an average of 38 hours per week
  • part-time and casual employees both get an hourly loading applied to their base pay rate.

Casual employees may also be eligible to request or be offered permanent (full-time or part-time) employment. This is known as casual conversion. 

For more information, see:

Pay and wages

Employees must be paid for their work in money. The amount an employee needs to be paid can depend on their age, duties and hours of work.

Payment also needs to include any penalty rates, overtime and other award entitlements for that pay period. For example, if an employee is covered by the Cleaning Award, they may be eligible for allowances that apply for:

  • working a broken shift
  • using their own vehicle
  • cleaning toilets.

Other tools to help you with pay rates are:

Learn more about minimum wages, penalty rates, overtime and allowances on our Pay and wages page.

Employees under the Cleaning Award can’t be paid a piece rate. This means that you can’t be paid per room or per job. 

Example: Pay for hours worked

Jen works full-time for a contract cleaning business. Jen’s supervisor tells her to clean a new office and that her payment will be $50 for cleaning it.

It takes Jen 4 hours to clean the new office.

Jen is covered by the Cleaning Award. As a Level 1 employee under the Cleaning Award, Jen is entitled to a minimum rate of $21.71per hour. Therefore, she should receive more than $50.

Jen shows her supervisor the Cleaning Award and her supervisor agrees that she will be paid for the full 4 hours.

Hours of work

An employee's hours of work (including overtime) are set out in the relevant award and can be different for full-time, part-time and casual employees. Employees are also entitled to rest and meal breaks.

We have tailored information for the Cleaning Award. On the pages below, select the ‘contract cleaning services’ industry from the drop-down menu: 

Employees should be paid for the work they perform. In the contract cleaning industry, this may include time spent changing into a uniform or collecting cleaning supplies.

There are very few situations in which employees aren’t paid for the work they do. Understand the different types of legitimate unpaid work and unpaid work where the person involved should be paid. For more information, see Unpaid work and Unpaid trials.

Taking paid sick leave

Under the NES, all employees except casuals are entitled to paid sick and carer's leave. Employers can ask employees to provide evidence for as little as 1 day or less off work. Check the relevant award to find out if there are also specific requirements about when an employee has to give evidence to their employer and what type of evidence they have to give. For example, the Cleaning Award does not provide any additional requirements around evidence beyond what the NES provides. 

The type of evidence requested must always be reasonable in the circumstances. Medical certificates or statutory declarations are examples of acceptable forms of evidence.

Example: Taking sick leave without a medical certificate

Linh is a part-time employee for a contract cleaning business. She is scheduled to work on Thursday. On Thursday morning, she wakes up with a sore throat and a temperature.

Linh’s supervisor, John, has told the staff that they can only take sick leave if they give him a medical certificate as evidence that they were sick. Linh doesn’t want to go to a doctor.

Linh calls the Fair Work Ombudsman and one of the advisers tells her that she can give John a statutory declaration instead of a medical certificate. Linh then calls John and tells him she will be taking sick leave for the day and will bring in a statutory declaration when she returns to work.

Pay slips and record-keeping

Pay slips

Employees need to be given a pay slip within 1 working day of being paid. Pay slips can be given electronically or in hard copy. Pay slips need to include certain details about an employee’s pay. Penalties apply for providing false or misleading information on a pay slip.

Find out more on our Pay slips page.


Employers have to keep time and wages records for 7 years.

Find out what records to keep and what needs to be in them on our Record-keeping page.

Visa holders and migrant workers

Migrant workers and visa holders, including international students, have the same workplace rights as all other workers in Australia. We provide free advice and assistance to all workers to help them understand these rights.

It's important for employers and employees to know the rules of an employee’s visa. Some visas have rules about how many hours employees can work or where they can work. For example:

  • international students can only work a certain number of hours per fortnight
  • seasonal workers can only work in certain industries.

If there’s a problem

For a step-by-step guide to solving workplace problems, see I'm a migrant worker being treated unfairly.

An employer can't cancel an employee’s visa, even if the employee has breached their visa conditions. Only Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel visas.

Visa holders can seek help without fear of visa cancellation, even if they've breached their work-related visa conditions. This arrangement with Home Affairs is called the Assurance Protocol.

For more information, see Visa holders and migrant workers.

Language resources

For workplace advice in your language, you can: 

  • translate most pages on the website by choosing your language from the menu at the top of the page
  • select your language in our Language help section and find information and resources, including videos and a form to anonymously report issues
  • call us through the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 – tell the operator the language you speak and ask them to telephone us on 13 13 94.

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical information about:

  • working out if there is a problem
  • speaking with your employer or employee about fixing the problem
  • getting help from us if you can't fix the problem.

Help for small business

  • Contact the small business helpline for quick and easy access to our advisers and workplace relations information. Call the helpline on 13 13 94 and press option 3.
  • Find tools, resources and information you might need in our Small Business Showcase.
  • Our Employer Advisory Service (EAS) gives eligible small businesses free tailored written advice on pay and entitlement issues. Learn more about this service at Employer Advisory Service – overview.