When employers are considering issues that may impact an employee’s performance, attendance or wellbeing it is unlikely that homelessness would be one of the first issues to come to mind. However, government figures show that 14% of homeless households had a member in full time employment.
Steps employers can take to support employees
In light of this, homelessness is an issue employers may wish to be alert to, not only from an employee welfare perspective but because employees who are stressed or worried may find it more difficult to be productive at work. Whilst homelessness is a complex issue with many causes, there are steps employers can take to support employees who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Increasing manager awareness of the issue of homelessness
Whilst homelessness is often thought of in terms of people sleeping rough, it covers a broad range of living circumstances including ‘hidden homelessness’ where people live in uninhabitable or insecure conditions, such as sleeping on the couches of friends or temporarily living in bed and breakfasts.
It’s helpful for managers to have an appreciation of the challenges an employee in such situations may face. This can create a supportive environment in which employees feel able to raise concerns and reach out for help if they need it. It can also help managers to deal appropriately and sensitively with any issues that arise in the workplace which an employee links to homelessness.
Signposting external sources of support
If an employee is homeless or facing homelessness, it’s important that they get the specialist advice and support they need. Employees may not know where to turn for this so it may be a good idea for managers to be able to signpost some external sources of support, whether local or national.
Providing practical support to help an employee secure accommodation
How much practical support an organisation is able or prepared to give will vary, as will each employee’s individual needs. Straightforward steps to assist an employee who is homeless or at risk of homelessness could include:
- Being flexible in allowing the employee to use holiday at shorter notice to find or view accommodation or attend meetings with housing organisations
- Allowing an employee to use a private space during their breaks to make phone calls to organisations who can assist with their housing needs
- Giving the employee permission to make reasonable use of company resources such as a computer, internet or Company landline to seek accommodation or obtain housing advice.
If you have any employment law matters you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.