Goldsmiths cleaning provision


Goldsmiths, University of London is working to bring in-house around 80 cleaners who currently work at the College but are employed by ISS, a third-party provider.

Making the cleaners direct employees of Goldsmiths will give them better employment terms and conditions in line with other staff directly employed by the College.

Bringing workers in-house like this is a complex process with all stakeholders including the College and UNISON, the cleaners’ recognised trade union, following statutory employee legislation.

Because of these complexities, and the level of interest in bringing these cleaners in-house shown by students, staff and exeternal stakeholders, this page is intended to provide factual information about the ongoing process to bring the cleaners in-house.

Regular updates and information will be posted as the project progresses. 

Project updates

14 March 2019

Goldsmiths management representatives shared a constructive meeting with UNISON, the cleaners’ recognised trade union, on 4 March 2019. Items discussed included a review of the terms and conditions being offered by Goldsmiths to the incoming cleaners and an analysis of feedback from consultations overshift patterns. The latter is being taken forward by Estates management who are working closely with UNISON to finalise these arrangements.

ISS, the cleaners’ current employer, opened formal consultation with UNISON on Monday 11 March. Further consultation meetings with staff are planned for w/c 18 March with a representative from Goldsmiths’ HR department attending these meetings to help respond to questions arising.

Matters of note for the coming weeks include a pension briefing for the workers being insourced, where representatives from the Local Government Pension Scheme will visit College to set out retirement savings options available to the cleaners, and the appointment of a translation service to help support the cleaners’ understanding of both the process and outcomes of insourcing.

6 February 2019

Goldsmiths management and UNISON representatives met on 4th February to continue to discuss the insourcing of cleaning staff.

Discussions involved an update on the progress of the insourcing project, the timeline for the consultation process to achieve the 1st May transfer date, broad plans for improved shift patterns, and areas of terms and conditions such as supporting the transitioning to a different pay date and cycle.

UNISON representatives will shortly be liaising with local cleaning staff representatives so that cleaning staff are updated and to ensure their involvement in consultations with Goldsmiths and ISS.

Regular meetings are scheduled between Goldsmiths management and UNISON representatives over the next few months to discuss and progress the insourcing of cleaning staff.

25 January 2019

Goldsmiths has reached an important milestone in the process of bringing cleaning staff in-house.

The College has issued the formal “measures” letter to ISS, the cleaners’ current employer, which we are required to do under the appropriate statutory industrial relations legislation. This is officially called a “Transfer of undertakings” – known as a TUPE transfer for short.

As the transferring employer, ISS are legally required to lead the consultation on the transfer with the cleaning staff. Members of the Goldsmiths Project Team will be meeting with ISS in early February to discuss these arrangements.  

College management will also be meeting fortnightly with the UNISON Regional Officer and local branch officers to consult on the insourcing arrangements as we work towards the changeover date of 1 May 2019. In addition to this the Project Board overseeing the process will meet at least once a month, with meetings likely to be on a more regular basis to ensure the progress of the project. 

14 December 2018

Senior College colleagues and UNISON representatives met this week to commence formal consultation on the insourcing of cleaning staff. Fortnightly meetings will take place from early in the New Year to progress legal and HR matters relating to the insourcing process. UNISON and colleagues from Estates will also meet regularly to discuss the shape of shift patterns post-transfer, with the views and suggestions of cleaning staff sought.

A timeframe for the insourcing process will be published following the first meeting in the New Year, with UNISON and the College committed to working towards a transfer date of 1 May 2019 assuming all the legalities associated with the process are concluded.

In a joint statement, SMT and UNISON said: "We are pleased the formal consultation process is underway with regard to the insourcing of cleaners and we are looking forward to working in partnership over the next few months to ensure the smoothest possible transfer in the best interests of the cleaning staff. Insourcing and TUPE processes can be notoriously complex, but there is a strong commitment on both sides to work collaboratively to achieve the targeted transfer date of 1 May 2019."

20 September 2018

Goldsmiths’ Governing Council has today approved plans to bring cleaning provision in-house, and confirmed steps to harmonise the terms and conditions of cleaners with other Goldsmiths staff.

This will ensure that cleaners at Goldsmiths benefit from increased annual leave allowance, access to a better pension provision, and maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay in line with other Goldsmiths staff.

Furthermore, Council has agreed to increase the budgeted number of cleaning hours. This increased provision will give Goldsmiths flexibility to address some of the shift pattern issues that have arisen as a result of the recent restructuring of working arrangements.

Given the complexity involved in transitioning up to 100 cleaning staff into Goldsmiths, there will be a transition period of at least six months from 1 November 2018. During this period, intensive work will be undertaken to complete the TUPE legal process, to undertake appropriate consultation over changes to employment terms, to ensure payroll and employment records are handed over smoothly, to recruit in-house management and additional HR support, and to arrange supplies of materials and consumables.

Goldsmiths understands that the process of insourcing such a large group of staff within comparable organisations has taken at least nine months, but SMT will be keen to ensure the process moves as quickly as possible, consistent with its duties to ensure a smooth handover for both the staff directly involved and the wider College.

Goldsmiths’ SMT will continue its discussions with cleaning staff and their UNISON representatives over these transitional arrangements and any residual issues relating to the recent shift pattern changes.

6 September 2018

Earlier this week, partly in response to requests from staff and student campaigners, SMT members invited UNISON representatives and members of the ISS cleaning team to a special meeting in order to provide an opportunity for open discussion about the recent shift changes and the shape of future provision.  

SMT is liaising with UNISON over holding further such meetings in the coming weeks to continue this process of meaningful discussion. Steps will be taken to ensure these meetings are scheduled to allow for maximum attendance by cleaning staff, whose time will be reimbursed.

Meanwhile, work is being accelerated on preparing detailed specifications and costings to enable a proper assessment of options for cleaning provision from November 2018.

The approach set out in the detailed factual note above – that the stipulated employment terms and conditions will ensure all cleaners are given parity of conditions with other Goldsmiths staff – sets a very high bar for external providers, and it is quite possible that an insourced provision proves the most viable option.

Project information

What insourcing means

Goldsmiths has decided to take its cleaning services back in-house, meaning around 80 cleaners currently employed by ISS are to become directly employed by Goldsmiths.

By becoming employees of Goldsmiths cleaners will get better working conditions and improved terms and conditions in line with equivalent staff employed directly by the College.

Why Goldsmiths is insourcing cleaning services

There are two main reasons for the College to undertake this work:

  • Improving cleaners’ terms and conditions. By becoming employees of Goldsmiths cleaners will get better working conditions and improved terms and conditions in line with equivalent staff employed directly by the College
  • A service that works for everyone. Bringing the cleaning in-house gives us more say over how cleaning is carried out – meaning we can work closely with both cleaning staff and students and staff to ensure we can create a service that meets everyone’s needs.


How the process of insourcing works

Insourcing is a complex procedure, with Goldsmiths obliged to follow statutory employee relations legislation which governs processes like this.

Key to this is following the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – otherwise known as TUPE.

A guide to TUPE is available on the ACAS website.

One of the key points of TUPE is that workers must have as a minimum the same terms with a new employer as with their previous employer. The insourcing of cleaners at Goldsmiths will actually exceed TUPE requirements, with the cleaners employed by Goldsmiths having improved terms and conditions compared to those offered by ISS.

Because this work is so complex and specialist the College has appointed a part-time project manager from specialists V4 Services Ltd to oversee the process: their expertise and insight will be key to achieving our desired outcomes within the planned timetable.

Regular updates on the progress of the project will be published on this page and shared with the College community via standard channels.


Consultation forms an important part of the TUPE process. The insourcing begins with two consultations – between ISS and UNISON and between UNISON and Goldsmiths.

This means that under employee regulations it is the responsibility of the outgoing employer, ISS, to communicate with the staff being transferred to Goldsmiths. The College will take on this responsibility once the cleaners are directly employed by Goldsmiths.

These consultations are running in parallel.

The ISS/UNISON consultation will look at whether the cleaners currently employed by ISS are happy to transfer over to Goldsmiths.

The UNISON/Goldsmiths consultation is looking at the employment terms and conditions the cleaners will have when they are employed by Goldsmiths.

There is no fixed time-scale for how long consultations must take: Goldsmiths and UNISON is working in partnership towards a transfer date of 1 May 2019. 

UNISON is the union for cleaners recognised by both Goldsmiths and ISS.

College support for insourced staff

The College will be providing translation services and briefing sessions on pensions alongside other support for the workers being insourced.

Oversight of the project

A Project Board has been convened with members drawn from across College. Their role is to provide strategic oversight to the process of insourcing and lead the workstreams which are carrying out the work required to ensure the project progresses smoothly.

Members of this board are:

Kate Burrell, Interim Director of HR
Kayley Darby-Philpotts, Associate Director, Immigration and Legal Services
Janine Huntriss, Project Manager
Andy Lamb, outgoing Director of HR
Tom Morgan, Head of Communications
Ian Pleace, Director of Finance – chair and project sponsor
Vivienne Rose, Director, Estates and Facilities
Claire Snowball, Head of Strategic Projects
JT, President of Goldsmiths Students’ Union
Michelle Williams Gamaker, Lecturer in Fine Art

Cleaning insourcing project schedule

The College is working towards a transfer date of 1 May 2019. After this there will be a settling in period which will include inductions for staff.

The College is committed to meeting fortnightly with UNISON to ensure the project’s progress.

Page last updated 14 March 2019