In April, the government introduced a new minimum wage of £7.20 per hour. This wasn’t much of an issue for us, as we already provided that level of pay or even greater for our staff, but it did mean renegotiating some historic contracts to bring them in line. Such negotiations were happening across the country between reputable security companies and their clients.
But for the rogue operators, who I’ve written about extensively in the past, this provided an opportunity. When everyone else was busy figuring out how to abide new minimum wage laws, often by raising rates, advertisements sprung up across the internet promising rates as low as £7.50 an hour.
Great value for money? Definitely not.
Either these companies are providing a service that’s dangerously under-equipped to deal with any threat to your site, or they’re advertising an impossibly cheap rate just to get your foot in the door. Either way, those low rates shouldn’t excite you, they should be a clear warning that they’re not a company you want to be dealing with, let alone trusting with the security and reputation of your business.
The rogue operators rely on customers not understanding how much it costs to provide a security service that’s real value for money. Luckily for you, I do, and once I break down the costs of an hourly rate it should be clear to you why no company offering rates so low can be trusted.
1. Minimum wage at £7.20 per hour.
2. Average National Insurance contribution of 13.8%, add around £1.
3. 28 days of paid holiday leave a year, add around £1.05.
4. Uniform costs, sick pay, pensions contributions, add around 35p.
5. Administration and infrastructure costs, such as insurance, mobile patrols and out of hours monitoring, add around 15p.
Total: £9.75 an hour. That’s just to break even; a company charging this much while also providing all the above wouldn’t even be making a profit. For rates below this figure to be profitable, the guards would have to be self-employed and be paid an hourly rage far below the legal minimum.
You might think, “So what? As long as the guard is licensed, it doesn’t matter.” To some extent, you’d be right: by law, all that’s required is for the security officer themselves to carry a license. But self-employed guards are often overworked and exploited, so worn down, tired and lacking motivation that they can no longer properly protect your business.
If you want to find out more about why self-employed guards are a danger to your business, click here.
Most importantly, these guards won’t have any infrastructure backing them up, so if there’s a flood, fire, break in or the guard is injured or worse, no one would know until your staff return to the site in the morning. They’re also definitely not covered by insurance, making you liable for any injuries that occur while on site.
It also reveals that the company providing the security isn’t interested in being in business in five, ten or even fifteen years. Their goal is either to bulk up their numbers and sell their business, or take advantage of their clients until something goes wrong, then shut up shop, move to another location, rebrand and open up again to take advantage of a new set of unsuspecting customers.
I see this happen far too often, and it’s going to keep on happening until the government tightens up regulations in the security industry. Until then, I fear we’re sliding back into the dark ages when this industry was notorious for dangerously unreliable service.
The entire point of security is to negate risk, not add more. Low price security adds so much risk to your business that you may as well go without, and instead live with the risk of leaving your site unsecured.
If you’re happy to take on that risk, then I can’t stop you from hiring budget security from rogue operators, but I want to make sure that you’re at least aware of the danger you’re putting your business in before you decide who’s going to protect it.
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