Buying cleaning services

Following this guidance can help school staff to effectively buy cleaning services.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Staff responsible for buying on behalf of their school
  • Boards

Plan ahead

We recommend that you begin planning at least 6 months before your school's current cleaning contract expires.

If you are happy with the performance of your current supplier but want to change services or service levels, consider renegotiating your existing contract.

If you have an existing contract with a supplier and want to test the market again, consider:

  • when your current contract is expiring and if there is a cost for early termination
  • the notice period required by the supplier
  • any improvements in service that are wanted from the new contract.

If you currently have in-house cleaners who will be impacted by outsourcing, keep in mind your obligations to vulnerable workers under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act.

See 'requirement to retain cleaning staff' below.

Specify your requirements

You can make sure potential suppliers understand the level of service needed by providing a clear outline of your requirements for cleaning. They can then accurately price services.

Writing a specification of requirements

You may use the same information included in a previous cleaning contract. However, if you are doing so, you will need to note any changes you would like to see in a new contract.

Example list of what to include on a specification of cleaning requirements

What to include Example

List all areas that are to be cleaned.

Using a map may help to clarify the location of specific buildings. Find your site map through the Helios Property portal.

Property portal(external link)

  • 20 classrooms
  • 1 hall
  • 8 specialist classrooms, including:
    • 2 art classes
    • 2 food technology rooms

Outline your expectations of frequency for different services, and define what the frequency means.

  • Daily: Every day
  • Weekly: Once a week
  • Fortnightly: Once every 2 weeks

List specific cleaning activities by area.

For each location, state your cleaning requirements.

In corridors, stairs, lifts and entrances:

  • pick up loose litter/rubbish daily.
  • machine buff all floors weekly.
  • dust all light fittings once per school term.

List any ad-hoc cleaning requirements.

These will be priced separately.

A school-wide deep clean in response to, for example, a national health crisis (such as COVID-19).

Specify the hours when cleaners will have access to the property and state any security arrangements.

Cleaning staff will have access to the school between 3:15pm and 6pm.

Upon completing cleaning in a building, the cleaning staff must ensure that:

  • all lights and heaters are turned off
  • the area is locked/secure
  • the alarms have been set.

List any non-cleaning requirements.

Cleaning staff must pass NZ Police vetting.

Cleaning staff must report any observed property damage to the school’s Property Manager on the day that it is sighted.

Cleaning staff are to be paid the minimum hourly rate that is payable to cleaners directly employed by schools (see the relevant collective agreement for more information on the current rate).

School Caretakers', Cleaners', Canteen and Ground Staff Collective Agreement

Confirm when your school would like the contract to begin and how long it will last.

  • Cleaning services will begin on February 1 2024.
  • The contract term is 4 years (+1 year based on performance).
  • The contract expires on January 31 2029 (if quality assurances are met and the extension is applied).

Use the below template to assist with preparing a specification of requirements.

Select a supplier

Syndicated contracts

Using 1 of the 2 syndicated cleaning contracts may be a suitable for medium to large schools with extensive cleaning needs.

Learn more about the syndicated contracts:

Syndicated cleaning services

Running a competitive buying process

If not joining syndicated cleaning contract, schools should run a competitive buying process.

Running a competitive buying process

When requesting quotes, it is good practice to specify the contract form that will be used.

The government model contract (form 2 for services) template is appropriate for use when purchasing cleaning services.

Government model contract templates – GPNZ(external link)

If using a supplier’s standard contract form, schools should review the contract form to ensure that the contract terms are fair and balanced.

Use the below guidance to understand key contract terms to look for.

Important contract clauses

Other considerations

Requirement to retain cleaning staff

Under Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act, cleaning staff are protected as vulnerable workers.

If a school stops employing cleaning staff in-house and begins a contract with an external supplier, the newly contracted cleaning supplier must offer employment to the cleaning staff previously employed in-house.

When a school changes contracted cleaning supplier, the new supplier must offer employment to the previous supplier’s cleaning staff who worked in the school.

Vulnerable workers – Community Law(external link)

Combining in-house cleaning with contracted services

Schools can retain cleaning staff or a caretaker employed in-house when signing a contract with an external cleaning supplier.

This results in a mixed model between internally sourced and externally sourced cleaning.

If this arrangement is used, it must be clearly defined and communicated to both the in-house staff and the external supplier. Both must know what their roles and responsibilities are. This is to ensure that no dispute will occur in the future.

Wage paid to cleaning staff

Cleaning staff employed in-house by schools must be paid the minimum hourly wage stated in their collective agreement.

Caretakers, cleaners and canteen staff

Contracted cleaning services suppliers are not mandated to pay their staff the minimum hourly rate that is stated in the agreement referred to above.

When requesting quotes, schools can specify their requirement that the contracted supplier pays their staff the minimum hourly wage stated in the above collective agreement for their time spent providing services to the school.

Performance reporting

Schools can ask for their contracted supplier to provide them with performance reports on a monthly basis.

These reports help schools to track:

  • spending
  • the number of cleaning staff working on site and hours worked
  • completion status of scheduled cleaning tasks and any tasks missed
  • any staff health and safety concerns (including reported incidents and near misses).

Using sustainable cleaning products

Cleaning products vary in the extent to which they have a negative impact on the environment.

Schools might choose to specify a preference for the use of sustainable cleaning products.

Sustainability may also be a factor that a school considers when evaluating a cleaning supplier’s offer.

Using cleaning consumables provided through another contract

Cleaning consumables such as chemicals are usually provided by the contractor and the cost is included in their pricing.

Schools can however choose to buy the cleaning consumables through the AoG office supplies contract if preferred.

If the school and cleaning supplier agree to this arrangement, the supplier would need to be registered as an agent of the school under the AoG office supplies contract in order to buy the consumables on behalf of the school.

This can be done by emailing and the provider of the goods available through the AoG office supplies contract. In this email, schools should clearly state the name of the cleaning provider and that they are to be allowed to buy cleaning products on the school’s behalf.

Buying office supplies

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