Multi-Stakeholder Frameworks for Rectification of Non-Compliance in Cleaning Supply Chains: The Case of the Cleaning Accountability Framework

AuthorMichael Rawling,Emmanuel Josserand,Sarah Kaine,Martijn Boersma
Published date01 September 2021
Date01 September 2021
Subject MatterArticles
2021, Vol. 49(3) 438 –464
Multi-Stakeholder Frameworks
for Rectification of Non-
Compliance in Cleaning Supply
Chains: The Case of the Cleaning
Accountability Framework
Michael Rawling* , Sarah Kaine**,
Emmanuel Josserand*** and Martijn Boersmay
There is now an expanding body of literature on the significant problem of business non-
compliance with minimum labour standards including ‘wage theft’. Extended liability regula-
tion beyond the direct employer is seen as one solution to this non-compliance in fragmented
but hierarchically organised industries—such as the cleaning industry. This article uses
empirical evidence to assess the effectiveness of one such regulatory scheme, the Cleaning
Accountability Framework (CAF), in addressing non-compliance with minimum labour stan-
dards (including provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and the Cleaning Services Award
2020). We find that CAF has been successful in identifying and rectifying certain non-
compliance, improving working conditions for some cleaners involved in the scheme. We
synthesise the key success factors of CAF in view of envisioning the adoption of such co-
regulation frameworks in other industries. We also propose legal reforms that will support
change across the cleaning industry.
I Introduction
There is now an expanding body of literature on the problem of business non-compliance with
labour standards including ‘wage (and superannuation) theft’ and other forms of labour
* Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Thank you to
Terry Carney for reading a previous draft of this article and to Katie Johns for assistance with referencing, editing and
formatting. Also thank you to the anonymous referees. Any errors are our own. The author may be contacted at michael.
** University of Technology Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The author may be contacted at
*** University of Technology Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Geneva School of Economics and Management,
University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland. The author may be contacted at
yUniversity of Technology Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. The author may be contacted at martijn.boersma@uts
Federal Law Review
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0067205X211016575
Frequently, the fragmented or f‌issurednature of the industry is discussed as a
signif‌icant barrier to the rectif‌ication of underpayment and other exploitation due to the lack of
resources of governmental and union regulators to monitor and/or take enforcement action, includ-
ing prosecution, against the vast multitude of non-compliant smaller businesses who are the direct
employers near the base of the industry structure.
One mechanism deployed as a solution to this
non-compliance in fragmented but hierarchically organised industriessuch as the cleaning
is extended liability for non-compliance (beyond the direct employer) throughout
supply chains and business networks.
At its best, this is a proactive measure which is used to
effectively harness the inf‌luence of lead f‌irms that hold a strategic position in supply chains and
business networks to ensure that all businesses directly engaging labour comply with labour
standards. An established body of literature has now also investigated the legal regulation of
supply chains for employment policy purposes.
A formal legal approach to enforcement has been a focus of research so far since voluntary
schemes of self-regulation, notably those using private auditing, often fail to produce the desired
1. See, eg, Stephen Clibborn, MultipleFrames of Reference: Why International Student Workers in Australia Tolerate
Underpayment(2018) Economic and Industrial Democracy (forthcoming); Stephen Clibbornand Chris F Wright,
Employer Theft of Temporary Migrant WorkersWagesinAustralia:WhyHastheStateFailedtoAct?(2018)
29(2) Economic and Labour Relations Review 207; Laurie Berg and Bassina Farbenblum, Wage Theft in Australia:
Findingsof the National TemporaryMigrant Work Survey(Migrant Worker Justice Initiative, November 2017) (Wag e
Theft in Australia); Laurie Berg and Bassina Farbenblum, Remedies for Migrant WorkerExploitation in Australia:
Lessons from the 7-Eleven Wage Repayment Program(2018) 41(3) Melbourne University Law Review 1035. This
article does not consider the relative merit s of the terms wage theftand underpaymentbut uses them interchangeab ly
to refer to the situatio n where an employer does not pay a worker thei r full, legal, payment entitlements. T he broader
term employer non-complianceis also used to denote the situation wher e an employer does not comply with leg al
standards including s tandards relating to payment of wo rkers.
2. David Weil, The Fissured Workplace: How Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It
(Harvard University Press, 2014). For prior research on the fragmented workplace, see Judy Fudge, Fragmenting Work
and Fragmenting Organizations: The Contract of Employment and the Scope of Labour Regulation(2006) 44(4)
Osgoode Hall Law Journal 609, 6225, 63546; Jill Rubery, Jill Earnshaw and Mick Marchington, Blurring the
Boundaries to the Employment Relationship: From Single to Multi-Employe r Relationshipsin Mick Marchington
et al (eds), Fragmenting Work: Blurring Organizatio nal Boundaries and Disordering Hierarchies (Ox ford University
Press, 2005) 63.
3. Criminal penalti es have also been proposed as a soluti on to wage theft. Extended liabil ity and criminal penalties could be
combined and are not mutually exclusive. This ar ticle does not deal further with the issue of criminal penal ties but
focuses on the extended liabil ity solution.
4. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) depl oys this mechanism in litigation by p leading that price maker businesses a re
accessories under s 550 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)(FW Act) to non-compliance by price ta ker non-compliance
with labour standard s. See Tess Hardy and John Howe, Chain React ion: A Strategic Approach to Addr essing
Employment Noncompl iance in Complex Supply Chains(2015) 57(4) JournalofIndustrialRelations563 (Chain
5. Guy Davidov, Indirect Employment: Should Lead Companies Be Liable?(2015) 37(1) Comparative Labour Law & Policy
Journal 5; Chris F Wright, Should Corporations Be Responsible for Labour Standards in Their Supply Chains? (Deben las
empresas ser responsables de las normas laborales en sus cadenas de suministro)(2016) 40(463) Analisis Laboral 10; Chris F
Wright and William Brown, The Effectiveness of Socially Sustainable Sourcing Mechanisms: Assessing the Prospects of a
New Form of Joint Regulation(2013) 44(1) Industrial Relations Journal 20; Igor Nossar et al, Protective Legal Regulation
for Home-Based Workers in Australian Textile, Clothing and Footwear Supply Chains(2015) 57(4) Journal of Industrial
Relations 585; Michael Rawling and John Howe, The Regulation of Supply Chains: An Australian Contribution to
Cross-National Legal Learningin Katherine V W Stone and Harry Arthurs (eds), Rethinking WorkplaceRegulation:
Beyond the Standard Contract of Employment (Russell Sage Foundation, 2013) 233; PhillipJames et al, Regulating
Supply Chains to Improve Health and Safety(2007) 36(2) Industrial Law Journal 163.
Rawling et al. 439

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