I. Legislation Regarding the Cleaning Industry
The European Union, through its implementation of OSHA rules and regulations, put heavy emphasis on worker safety. From regulations regarding asbestos to banning phosphorus from being used in detergents and other cleaning materials, EU law regarding the cleaning industry is designed to keep workers safe from chemical and biological toxins. Both the United Kingdom and Germany adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the European Union. The laws in each country, since they follow strictly EU policy, are the same with respect to the cleaning industry. How these laws are interpreted, however, may vary according to country. Also, factors such as trade union membership (which has a higher rate in the United Kingdom than in Germany) and domestic unemployment laws contributed to some differences with how cases of worker injury are handled.
II. Employment in the Cleaning Industry
Throughout the European Union, the cleaning industry is one of the leading sectors providing employment. This fact should not surprise anyone, considering how important cleanliness is important in all walks of life. Both the UK and Germany are in the top five when it comes to European Union nations that employ workers in the cleaning industry. For the moment, Germany holds a lead over the UK in the number of employees working for the cleaning industry. As of the end of the 2011 fiscal year, there were approximately 450,000 employees working in over 3,400 companies in the UK. In Germany, the numbers are nearly double. This difference may be misleading, as employment in the British cleaning industry is expected to grow by 3% between 2012 and 2015, whereas in Germany employment in the cleaning industry has dropped in recent years.
The recent drop in German employment in the cleaning industry is in no way indicative of Germans placing less value on keeping their offices, homes and streets clean. Rather, one must realize that it is only recently that German companies have begun engaging in outsourcing. While German companies have outsourced jobs in the past, it was very limited. Now that more jobs in the cleaning industry are being outsourced or given to immigrant workers, there is a corresponding decline in the number of Germans who work in this industry.
III. Sustainability of the Cleaning Industry in the UK and Germany
As both the UK and Germany place heavy importance on maintaining clean public and private facilities, there will always be a need for the cleaning sector. Innovations in technology such as chemicals and machinery only contribute to the sustainability of the cleaning industry in both nations. The slow dissolution of stereotypes regarding the cleaning industry - such as that of it being woman's work - has contributed to an increase in male employment for both countries in this sector. With both the UK and Germany leading an industry that is second only to temporary labour in the European Union, there is every reason to believe that in both nations the cleaning industry will remain vibrant.