Coronavirus – temporary guidance on key workers

This is not official guidance, but could be useful for our members to inform their approaches until official confirmation is secured.

On 19 March, the government released the list of roles that qualify as critical for the purposes of children attending schools or nursery.

Working with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, we’ve been seeking urgent clarification from the government on how the guidance should apply to housing association staff. At the time of writing, we have not yet had confirmation, and we know that the government has received a large number of similar requests from across the economy.

We know that our members need urgent clarity on this issue in order to make decisions. We have submitted some proposed guidance to the government, outlining our interpretation of the key worker criteria. Please note that this is separate to essential worker criteria. This is not official guidance, but could be useful for our members to inform their approaches until official confirmation is secured.

We’re pleased to be working with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Community Housing Cymru and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations on this critical issue – all of these organisations are endorsing this interpretation of the guidance.

We’ll continue to press for further clarity from the government and will update our members on any developments.

If your organisation is an NHF member, you can sign up to receive our email updates – please get in touch with your name and organisation.

Update from 25 March

The government has published revised guidance on businesses concerning essential work. This clarifies that work completed inside people homes, such as repairs and maintenance, can continue to be carried out provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of coronavirus. 

It also stipulates that the usual social distancing rules of maintaining a two metre distance from any household occupant should continue. 

The guidance is clear that no work should be carried out where a household is actively self-isolating or shielding due to having symptoms of the virus, with the exception of work to remedy a direct risk to the household (for example, emergency plumbing repairs) as long as the tradesperson is willing to carry out the work. Public Health England can provide further advice under these circumstances.

The updated guidance can be accessed from the government's website.

We welcome this clarity that repairs can be carried out in people’s homes where essential and in accordance with public health guidelines. We are continuing to work with the government and partners to ensure they’re aware of the barriers housing associations are experiencing to carrying out work, given the difficulties accessing people’s homes and reduced staffing levels.