Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Employee Encroachment

September 19, 2010
Editor’s note:
In this industry, it is nearly impossible to keep tabs on every single employee at all times.

A recent post on the cmmonline.com Bulletin Board addressed a concern of an employee encroaching on the territory of an employer.


Posted by Ed Samson: 5/26/2008 at 6:12 p.m.
I stopped by an account today to drop off cleaning supplies and saw a note on the bulletin board: “(name) for cleaning estimate Tuesday 9 a.m.”

The name is unusual enough that I know it is my employee who is cleaning that office. I am steamed.

The customer signed an agreement when we started that they would not hire our employees for a period of 12 months, although the person who signed is no longer there.

My plan is to be there at 9 a.m. when he arrives and tell him he cannot do this, then go in and tell the customer the same thing.

Normally, all employees sign a receipt of company policies which includes a non-compete paragraph. Somehow I didn’t have this guy sign one.

At this point, I guess I’ll make him sign if he wants to continue working, otherwise he''ll be terminated.

If he is terminated, I’ll have him sign an agreement that he won’t solicit our customers. In consideration for signing he’ll receive his regular quarterly bonus of about $140.

I’m open to any other ideas.


Responses:
Robert Jess:5/26/2008 10:20 p.m.
In our contracts, the customer cannot hire an employee until after they have been gone from our company for six months. Plus our employees sign a non-compete.

Sorry to hear what happened, but like you said, the most you can do is show up and then show the customer the section of the contract where they are not permitted to hire your employees.

Though the person who signed is no longer there, the contract is still in effect because the time they were there, they were signing for the company.

David Hebert: 5/27/2008 10:08 a.m.
Frankly, I would terminate this person no matter what. They are biting the hand that feeds them.

Be ready to lose this account because it could happen even without hiring your worker. This company does not want to get caught up in a shouting match between you and your employee and may just go with someone else depending on your relationship with the client.

On the other hand, whoever permitted this employee to give a walk-through is partly to blame also. Common sense tells you that one does not go behind the company’s back that is servicing you only to hire their employee.

Ed Samson:5/27/2008 10:57 a.m.
Here is an update. I went to the customer this morning. My guy was late, so I went in and explained the situation that our contract prevents them from hiring our employee.

Apparently they had a note on the bulletin board that one of the women was looking for someone to clean her house and our guy responded.

She didn’t know he was our employee and agreed to not hire him for the office. She did say they were looking to cut costs and would like a less expensive service.

Just after I left my employee drove up. I told him he could not steal my accounts.

He said he was not sure why they asked him to come in (not likely) as he had cleaned the woman’s house. He assured me he would not be looking to take this account.

Bob The Cleaner:5/27/2008 12:55 p.m.
Ed, sounds like the guy is trying to hustle up some work in an area (residential) that you don’t do business in.

I’d look to see if he has a strong interest in cleaning homes. If so, this might be an opportunity for you to promote the employee, partner with him in drumming up business and start a residential revenue stream and put him in charge of it.

From what I’ve read above, it doesn’t sound like he’s trying to backstab you, but trying instead to make some extra dough.

John Markey, CBSE: 5/28/2008 8:33 a.m.
Ed, it sounds like you’ve done just about everything.

We do have a paragraph in our client service agreement that the client will not hire our employees to perform any duties that we are providing to them for a period of 180 days after the termination of our agreement, unless the client pays our company a training fee equal to 17 percent of the annual wage the client will pay our (ex) employee.

This fee is no different than that of a temp company that is furnishing temps that are later hired by the client. We do however allow them to hire our employees for other jobs without any “training fees.” Our thought is that a six-month time span will most likely take care of any “start up” cleaning companies that employees are considering.

We do take associates trying to take clients from us seriously and we have them sign a non-compete as part of their employment application.

Supervisors and managers have three additional documents to sign: 1) An acknowledgement letter that we have given them the following two documents; 2) A confidentiality agreement; and 3) A non-competition agreement. But that’s another subject.


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