Branch Secretary :

Safety agreement for homelessness workers

Saving lives


The housing and homelessness workers of our branch are playing a key role in saving lives and keeping people safe throughout the coronavirus crisis demonstrating the role that trade unions can play.


Often, we have been putting our health at risk through the lack of PPE doing our best to provide properly resourced well-run accommodation.


Unite agreement


This not only allows vulnerable people to be supported to live with dignity and respect but also limits the spread and impact of the virus by giving people safe environments to shield themselves and self-isolate.


Unite has played a vital role in securing an agreement in my workplace which helps to secure these measures.




In this environment it’s good to see when employers work with their trade unions and staff to do their best to ensure safety.

In my workplace, Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, we are supporting rough sleepers in the new emergency homeless hotels that have been commissioned to house the homeless.


Members meetings


Unite held emergency members meetings at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and immediately after lockdown to draw up health and safety proposals that we put to management.


Immediately in place


The employer responded positively with the result that the following measures were immediately put in place:

· Voluntary return only to face-to-face work.

· For the union to review all site and COVID-19 risk assessments.

· For weekly JNCs (meetings with management) to allow quick responses to risks and the new working environment

· For those workers with high risk health conditions, or who live with those with high risk
conditions, to work from home as standard.

· For those working from home to be supplied with the correct equipment (laptops and
mobiles) to allow them to do so.

· For days off through sickness or self-isolation from COVID-19 to be excluded from the
sickness policy.

· For the suspension of all planned disciplinaries and restructures until normal working is

· For face-to-face work to be with the minimum staff level and by rota multiple staff for each FTE role to reduce exposure.

· For face-to-face workers to receive PPE (mask and gloves).

· For shift times to be outside of rush hour or travel to work in a paid for taxi to reduce risk
from public transport.

· For all Locums who have had to cancel shifts because of self-isolation or emergency changes to working practices to receive full pay.


Limit exposure

As a keyworker in a hotel or hostel it is not uncommon to interact with over 20 clients a day.


By limiting staff exposure, we not only help protect staff but also reduce the risk of vulnerable clients being exposed to the virus.


Sensible approach


We hope that other organisations take this sensible approach to ensurethe safety of their staff, tenants and clients and support the struggle against the coronavirus.


No organisation large or small should put the health of its staff or homeless people at risk, this agreement shows what can be achieved.


The argument of lack of resources is not acceptable when it comes to people's lives and should always be challenged, fighting trade unions are crucial in this task.


Jack Jeffery Secretary Unite LE1111 branch - housing workers.


 April 6th 2020


Before Posting

We welcome debate and discussion on our website, but we also want an open, respectful, inclusive space in which forms of abuse or personal attack will not be tolerated. Comments will be moderated and will be removed if they are found to be unduly offensive. You should also be very careful in posting information about your employer. Employers do visit the website and if you think a comment could get you into trouble for releasing confidential or sensitive information, or for bringing the employer into disrepute, please do not post it. It remains your individual responsibility to ensure that what you post is appropriate. Please therefore just give a moment's thought to what you are saying. The types of comments that are likely to be moderated are:

  • Personal abuse or attacks on an individual.
  • Information which breaches another person's right to confidentiality.
  • The use of offensive language, including swear words, or language which is racist, sexist, or otherwise breaches equalities standards.
  • Anything that might place the Branch or the wider union in legal jeopardy.
  • Adverts or information which is posted for commercial gain.

* Name
* Email (will not be published)
* field is required