Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on workers' accommodation

Guidance for certain sectors of the economy such as forestry, construction and telephone engineers, who rely on shared, self-catering accommodation for work.

Published:
1 Nov 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on workers' accommodation

Certain sectors of the economy such as forestry, construction and telephone engineers rely on shared, self-catering accommodation for work.  While the recommended position is for individual, self-contained accommodation for each employee, this is not always feasible.  Workers should share accommodation only:

  • where it is not practicable for the workers to commute, or to work from home
  • where separate accommodation is unavailable or impractical, and
  • where assurance to workers and employers has been provided by accommodation providers that risk assessments have been undertaken and appropriate safety measures are in place and workers will comply with physical distancing and public health guidance. 

Special consideration should also be given by employers to situations where a worker may be vulnerable and/or unwilling to share accommodation due to risk of COVID-19 transmission and efforts should be made to find suitable alternative accommodation which meets their needs. 

When separate accommodation cannot be provided and where workers are willing to share, the following guidance and mitigations should be followed.  

  • they should be limited in size to ensure workers can access kitchens, cleaning and washing facilities and other shared spaces while maintaining physical distancing
  • employers and accommodation providers should conduct individual risk assessments, to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in a shared accommodation unit to ensure that users have separate bedrooms and the ability to occupy shared areas such as kitchens and toilets on their own and then clean them afterwards.  Individual risk assessment should ensure each user has time to occupy and use spaces on their own and clean afterwards, given that at high demand times such as mornings, evenings and mealtime
  • workers sharing self-catering accommodation should have their own bedrooms
  • shared bathrooms and kitchens should be kept clean and materials and instructions for that should be provided
  • residents should, where practicable, use shared rooms one at a time with cleaning and ventilation in between (e.g. preparing and eating a meal).      
  • where communal toilets are being used providers should implement measures to decrease the risk of contamination including enhanced cleaning and consider reducing access to a one in, one out basis
  • cleaning materials should be provided for users to ‘clean as they go’