UK government 'should say cleaners are critical workers'

6th of April 2020
UK government 'should say cleaners are critical workers'

Employers of cleaning staff operating in critical industries have been urged to provide them with written proof that they should be treated as critical and key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The British Cleaning Council (BCC) has made the call to help remove confusion over what government guidelines on dealing with Coronavirus mean for cleaners working in critical industries.

The Republic of Ireland, for example, has explicitly named cleaners as essential workers if they are supporting essential industries. The BCC is calling for the UK government to do the same.

The UK government has identified a number of critical industries and institutions it wants to protect. They include health and social care, education and childcare, key public services, local and national government, supermarkets and the food supply chain, public safety and national security, the transport network, utilities, communication and financial services. Employees in these industries are classified as key workers.

Although the cleaning sector is not named on the list, the services cleaners provide are required to enable these organisations to continue to function safely, so cleaning staff are implicitly part of the key worker group BCC says.

So it's urging employers of cleaners supporting these critical industries to write letters for their staff which they can produce as evidence that they are key workers and that their work is critical. A letter could be invaluable if cleaners need to place children at schools or at a childcare provider, so they can continue going to work. Schools and childcare settings have remained open for the children of key workers.

An employer letter could also be produced by a cleaner if they are stopped by the police when travelling to work, proving that they cannot work from home and their travel is essential.

The Irish government's approach has been to name the ‘cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning' ‘where necessary to support other essential services' under ‘administrative and support services' on the list of essential services excused the travel ban, which it published on March 28.

Paul Thrupp, BCC chairman said: "There has been some confusion among employers and employees in the cleaning sector about who should or shouldn't go to work, because the cleaning industry has not been named as a critical industry by the government.

"The UK government should make it clear that cleaners supporting essential industries are excluded from the Coronavirus travel ban, as the Irish government has done."



Our Partners

  • ISSA Interclean
  • EFCI
  • EU-nited