Cleaning of NSW Government facilities

The NSW Government is committed to improving the quality and standard of cleaning and maintenance at government facilities and ensuring value for money for NSW taxpayers.

To help deliver these commitments, the Government conducted a procurement process for a new whole-of-government Facilities Management contract that would achieve better value for money through a fairer and more equitable distribution of cleaning across sites. The new contract will achieve this by moving, over the term of the contract, to a fairer cleaning service delivery model based on the total square metres cleaned rather than the previous approach of fixed hours at different locations.

As part of the recent new procurement process, all successful proponents had to:

  • outline their plans for achieving better value for money in the delivery of cleaning services and
  • present ideas for how improvements in quality and innovation could add value to the delivery of cleaning services, while also maintaining current protections and entitlements for permanent employees.

The procurement process also provided opportunities for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and Aboriginal and disability providers to grow their skills and businesses, and participate in meaningful employment.

Improving the quality and standard of cleaning

The expiring cleaning contract for NSW Government schools and other public buildings is based on an outdated model of fixed hours for cleaning at different locations.

This approach has resulted in an uneven distribution of cleaning hours across locations of similar size and need.

In contrast, the current industry standard is to contract cleaning services to providers based on a transparent measure of the total square metres cleaned.

The new cleaning contract will:

  • factor in changes to industry practice that have occurred since the contract was last issued in 2011
  • be based on hours-per-square-metre metrics
  • allow for surface types at each site and
  • maintain employment guarantees for cleaners.

Ensuring a quality cleaning service

It is important that our schools, hospitals, ambulance, fire and police stations, courthouses and other public buildings are clean and safe. Any changes that may occur in the delivery of cleaning services will not impact on quality.

Cleaning providers will continue to be held accountable through:

  • standards written in contracts
  • key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • inspections of each site
  • surveys of school principals and other agencies to measure their satisfaction with school cleaning
  • quality auditors visiting each of the 4,200 cleaning sites across NSW, at least every two years and
  • the appointment of external independent auditors to audit contractors’ records and premises randomly.

So that any issues can be quickly reported and addressed, clients will continue to have access to a dedicated, online system for logging any issues they experience with cleaning at their site.

Facilities management of NSW Government sites

Property NSW manages the Whole-of-Government Facilities Management Contract on behalf of participating government agencies and other eligible clients, including the departments of Education, Justice, Transport, TAFE NSW, local government, not-for-profit groups, and other government office buildings.

  • The contract provides cleaning and maintenance services at NSW Government facilities, including schools, TAFE Colleges, courthouses and police and fire stations.
  • Cleaning services are delivered to approximately 4,200 government sites and maintenance services are delivered to approximately 3,000 sites.
  • These services were first outsourced to the private sector in 1994. Since that time, contracted companies have provided a reliable, quality service keeping our schools and other public buildings clean and well maintained.
  • The expiring Whole-of-Government Facilities Management Contract was in place for seven years and cost more than $400 million per annum, which is a considerable expense. The new contract delivers the best possible value for money for NSW taxpayers and government agencies.
  • Following a competitive and rigorous procurement process, nine new contracts were awarded to deliver cleaning services across nine NSW regions. The new contracts are estimated to save taxpayers more than $75 million over the term of the contract.
  • The new cleaning contract will commence 1 March 2019 when the current, extended contract expires.
  • The new maintenance contract commenced on 1 July 2018. It is estimated to save the Government more than $60 million over the contract term.

Employment guarantees for cleaners

Under the Whole-of-Government Facilities Management contract, cleaning is delivered to over 4,200 sites which includes 2200 schools and other public buildings across NSW. NSW government schools account for most of the work performed across the contract.

Approximately 6,000 cleaners are employed directly by cleaning service providers (not by the Government) in permanent, part-time or casual roles to service the current facilities management (cleaning) contracts. This has been the case since 1994 when the contract was outsourced to the private sector.

Cleaners perform important work which is valued by the Government and critical to the running of schools across NSW which is why it is important that the new contract achieves both quality for the agencies using the contract, and fairness for the cleaners.

The Government met regularly with the cleaners’ trade union, United Voice, throughout the procurement of the new contract and will continue to keep them informed throughout the transition period.

The Government will protect cleaners’ jobs while moving, over the term of the contract, to a new fairer model of delivering cleaning (hours-per-square-metre metric allowing for the type of surfaces at each site).

Cleaners’ employment guarantees will be maintained and reform will be achieved over time through:

  • natural attrition of cleaners moving to other jobs, retirement, etc.
  • reallocation of cleaners to alternative sites within the contract, and within reason following consultation between employee and employer
  • reduction of excess overtime or unrequired casual shifts, or variation of part-time worker hours (in accordance with the Multi Enterprise Agreement), and
  • new sites, or expanding sites, absorbing some guaranteed cleaner hours.

The Government is committed to ensuring suppliers maintain fair work standards for employees and new contracts will continue to require that suppliers protect workers’ entitlements under the Fair Work Act and industrial relations legislation, and maintain health, safety and environmental requirements.

Additional employment protections that currently exist in the expiring contract will also be applied. These include:

  • available sick leave roll-over and safety net entitlements for former Government Cleaning Service employees
  • employment offer, 10-days statutory sick leave entitlement and rostered days off provisions for permanent employees (as of 1 March 2018) moving to a new employer
  • limitations and restrictions on sub-contracting arrangements, and
  • a valid Working With Children Check and NSW Police Clearance before commencing duties in a NSW school.


Under the new contract, subcontracting:

  • cannot occur without the approval of Property NSW
  • is limited to specific periodic tasks, for example, carpet cleaning or high-level window cleaning and
  • is permitted where it supports employment of Aboriginal workers or workers with a disability, or, as a last resort, for very remote locations with a limited workforce.

Where subcontracting occurs, all requirements applying to head contractors also apply to subcontractors. This requirement includes paying workers according to the Fair Work Act and other industrial relations legislation.

Multi-layer subcontracting is expressly prohibited in the new contract.

Opening the way for new entrants

Once the new contract is in place, more government agencies may choose to join the new arrangements, creating more cleaning positions with meaningful hours. For example, a regional cleaner may have the opportunity of more work if multiple government sites in their community require cleaning.

The procurement process also resulted in the new providers committing to targets, worth up to six per cent of the value of the contract, to be invested in increasing employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and people with disabilities.

Key dates

1 March 2019 The new contracts will be in place following a three-month transition period between any outgoing and incoming supplier to ensure a smooth transfer and a consistent delivery of cleaning standards to the sites operating under the new contract.


For more information, contact Jason Elderhurst by email.