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New report finds that 42% of employers would terminate an employee’s contract if they were homeless

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

The national charity for homeless people, Crisis, has published a new report which draws on a survey of 250 UK employers, new analysis of UK government homelessness data and in-depth interviews with people from across Great Britain who have experienced being in-work and homeless in the last two years.

It exposes the tremendous strain working and being homeless has on a person’s well-being, how it damages people’s chances of creating meaningful connections with colleagues and how staff are reluctant to turn to their employer for support out of fear of losing their job. The research also reveals how poorly paid, insecure work is leaving people trapped in homelessness.  

Participants described how they were frequently left anxious and exhausted when at work due to the mental toll of trying to find somewhere to sleep night after night, with many forced to bed down in vehicles, on floors or in tents, before having to travel long distances to get to work with very limited transport options besides walking.

Many saw their hygiene suffer as they struggled to wash themselves and their clothes, often turning to gyms or the generosity of friends to access showers, with one participant recalling how they had to resort to washing in train toilets.

Sadly, the isolation of working without a home was also revealed, with most participants choosing not to tell their boss as they felt nothing good would come from it but also from the shame of how they would be perceived. This resulted in many participants taking steps to conceal their situation by using friends or family members addresses for admin and avoiding situations where their homelessness could be uncovered, leaving them cut off emotionally from their peers.

The survey findings reflect why workers were right to be concerned with over half (56%) of employers stating homelessness would likely have a detrimental effect on a current employee’s job, while a further 58% disclosed how being homeless would likely have a negative impact on a prospective employee’s application, suggesting that negative attitudes to homelessness is a major issue amongst UK businesses.

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