Non-compliant hand car wash (HCW) operators are estimated by the police to account for 80% of all HCWs in the UK. Non-compliance can take many forms, from breaches of environmental regulations to non-payment of tax, to labour abuse including failure to pay the minimum wage and forcing workers to endure dangerous working conditions.
Here are some common warning signs that non-compliancy may be taking place at a car wash:
- Location: Mostly out in the open on porous tarmac or broken unmade surfaces with unsuitable or non-existent drainage in garden centres, sheds, pub car parks, disused automated roll-over wash bays in petrol filling stations and supermarket car parks.
- Staff: Various external wash and interior valeting offers. Usually manned by 2 - 5 (more at peak times e.g. Saturday mornings) operatives with supervisor/gangmaster standing in the background who takes payment. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and proper uniforms are usually non-existent. Females often do the valeting.
- Equipment: High-pressure lance pre-wash followed by manual sponge washing, manual spray application of a waxing agent and manual spray application of hydrochloric acid to wheels with chamois leather drying followed by optional interior valeting. No water recycling.
- Cost: Most operate the pricing system according to car size and whether interior clean/valeting option selected. Ranging from £7.00 - £15.00 for basic exterior only wash.
- Payment method: Amongst non-compliant rogue HCWs almost uniformly cash with no receipt. In contrast to the above, multiple HCWs such as Waves, Car Park Valeting operate in compliance with fiscal, employment, environmental and H&S regulations with remote non-cash payment options.
- Numbers: Estimated around 8,000 UK-wide.
Carwash/Slavery (3/6/2018) -- BBC1 "Breakfast"
For more information relating to this topic and what you can do to report it please visit these links to stay informed:
- GLAA labour exploitation in the Car Wash industry - https://www.gla.gov.uk/who-we-are/modern-slavery/industry-profile-car-washes-2020/
Unseen MODERN SLAVERY IN CAR WASHES - https://docs.google.com/viewerng/viewer?url=https://www.unseenuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Modern-Slavery-in-car-washes.pdf
University of Nottingham Labour exploitation in Hand Car Washes report - https://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/media/1238/labour-exploitation-in-hand-car-washes.pdf
Clewer Safe Car Wash App: https://theclewerinitiative.org/campaigns/safe-car-wash