Two in five unaware it is legal to employ somebody who is homeless

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Two in five employers are not aware that it is legal to employ somebody who is homeless, a survey has found, which suggests many organisations could be needlessly shutting talented people out of work.

Two YouGov surveys conducted for Business in the Community found the stigma surrounding the integration of homeless people into the workplace persists.

More needs to be done by employers both in reaching out externally to support people towards work, but also looking internally to ensure that they have an inclusive culture in their organisations,” – Nicola Inge, Business in the Community

In addition to the 40% who said they did not know that it was legal to offer a homeless person a job, one in six employers (17%) said hiring a homeless person would affect other employees in a negative way.

Just 50% of employees said they would be comfortable working with a person who is homeless, compared with 71% who said the same for military veterans, 63% who would be comfortable around modern slavery victims, and 62% who said the same for refugees. Only 26% said they would be comfortable working with someone with a criminal record.

BITC said employers needed to help people from excluded groups  get into work by engaging with partners in their communities and breaking down barriers in their recruitment processes.

Employers also needed to do more to make their workplaces more inclusive for people who have “all kinds of life experiences”, it said.

Employment campaign director Nicola Inge said: “We’ve been working with businesses to create inclusive employment opportunities for people from disadvantaged groups for over 20 years, and have seen first-hand the transformational impact that good quality work can have on the lives of people who have faced challenging life experiences.

“But more needs to be done by employers both in reaching out externally to support people towards work, but also looking internally to ensure that they have an inclusive culture in their organisations so that people with different life experiences feel included and supported once in work.

“This will involve tackling prejudice and stigma in all its forms, as well as putting measures in place to ensure that once people are in work, they have access to the support they need without being singled out.”

Just 8% of workers said they would feel very comfortable talking to their employer or a colleague about problems with housing situations, and 30% agreed they would be very uncomfortable talking about their financial difficulties at work.

The findings were published to coincide with the launch of its Inclusive Employment Guide for BITC members. The guide outlines three key steps towards becoming an inclusive employer, including providing employability support to improve work-readiness; addressing structural barriers within recruitment practices; and offering in-work support to aid the transition into the workplace, such as career mentoring and training and development.

The data was obtained via survey of 622 senior decision-makers and a further survey of 1,061 employers.

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