A homeless person holding 'willing to work' sign

Is it legal to hire someone who is homeless?

A recent YouGov survey has highlighted that 40% of employers believe it is illegal to employ someone who is homeless. Nearly one in five employers (17%) say that hiring a homeless person would have a negative impact on their existing employees, demonstrating still high levels of stigma towards integrating people who are homeless into workplaces.

UK unemployment is at its lowest rate for years, yet people furthest from secure employment are still being left behind. Previous research shows that one in four are at risk of homelessness in working households, and that in-work poverty is on the increase due to reductions to benefits and stagnating wages, leaving low-income families more vulnerable.

The objective of the survey was to get a better understanding of business and employee attitudes towards groups that have been traditionally excluded from employment opportunities. These include:

  • homeless people;
  • refugees;
  • ex-offenders;
  • ex-military personnel; and
  • people who have experienced modern slavery.

Nicola Inge, Employment Campaign Director at Business in the Community, 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.”

BITC are calling on employers to:

  • take action to improve pathways to work for people from excluded groups, by engaging with community partners and breaking down recruitment barriers; and
  • do more to create inclusive environments where people who have all kinds of life experiences can thrive in work.

According to BITC’s new Inclusive Employment factsheet, the three key steps towards being an inclusive employer for disadvantaged groups are outlined as:

Inspire: One of the most significant ways in which business can support excluded groups is by providing employability support. This can take the form of interventions that will help people to address the barriers to employment, improve work-readiness and gain essential skills.

Hire: Addressing structural barriers within businesses’ recruitment processes to make sure that excluded groups have access to the jobs that are on offer.

Grow: Employers need to provide in-work support to aid the transition into employment, support progression and react to a changing world of work. This can be through offering career mentoring, flexible working and training and development opportunities.


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