22 August, 2023
It has been recently reported (Inside Housing - Insight - Housing Officers Under Pressure) that the role of a Housing Officer is becoming increasingly difficult, with reasons cited including Housing Officers feeling overwhelmed and overworked with huge patches. They are expected to do tasks that aren't technically within their remit or that they've had insufficient training for, such as working with vulnerable tenants. All of this is having a negative impact on their mental health. A working environment like this is not sustainable, and this is reflected in nearly a third of councils experiencing an increase in turnover of Housing Officers recently.
There are several ways in which employers can help mitigate these issues, including: • Having up-to-date and regular policies and practices to support well-being; • Considering and updating job descriptions and expectations; • Providing resources and training to support employees with their day-to-day roles; • Ensuring 1-1s are diarized and take place, preferably in person; • Ensuring managers receive line management training on matters such as conducting 1-1s, crucial conversations, stress management, and spotting signs of mental health concerns; • Regularly reviewing staffing and considering recruitment needs, both long-term and short-term; and • Ensuring signposting takes place for internal and external support.
There are various potential consequences that may arise if employers are not prioritizing the mental health and well-being of their employees, including persistent and/or long-term sickness absences, resignations, and constructive dismissal claims (when employees resign due to a repudiatory breach of contract by their employer). It could also lead to complaints via grievances and/or whistleblowing, and potential reputational issues for the organization.
To assist in dealing with sickness absences, Acas has recently released updated guidance, including a toolkit where you can find tips and resources to assist you when dealing with sickness absences (Recording Sickness Absence: Recording and Reducing Sickness Absence - Acas).
Employers should feel confident when dealing with their employees' well-being and ensure that they are proactive and have efficient practices, reporting lines, and support mechanisms in place to do so. For any support in reviewing your current practices, delivering internal training, or general advice about ongoing casework, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
For more information contact Alice McKenna in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01254 222373. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.
Learn more about our Housing & Regeneration department here