It’s time to recognise FMs as 'key workers', IWFM tells ministers


  • Announcement,
  • Coronavirus

25 March 2020

Hand wash

'Buildings enabling the provision of essential services that are so crucial in the COVID-19 response need to be clean, secure and well maintained to ensure they are safe for the people using them.'

This is what CEO Linda Hausmanis said yesterday in a letter to the Secretaries of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, calling for workplace and facilities management professionals, and their contractors, to be recognised as key workers in the national effort to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Our profession has an essential role to play during the pandemic by ensuring that buildings, and their users, remain safe and operational. Despite this, workplace and facilities management professionals have not been recognised by the UK Government as ‘key workers’.

The letter details what we consider to be essential services and safety-critical systems, such as cleaning, security, fire safety, and waste management, among many others. Here it is in full:

‘Buildings enabling the provision of essential services that are so crucial in the COVID-19 response (such as hospitals, schools, banks, etc.) need to be clean, secure and well maintained to ensure they are safe for the people using them.   

‘Meanwhile, temporarily unoccupied buildings (such as closed down offices, hotels, etc.) and residential buildings still need essential maintenance, repairs and security to minimise any risk to user safety now and in the future, and to ensure business continuity. Water systems need to be maintained to avoid legionella, and refuse collection continued and telecommunications systems checked, for example. 

‘As tighter measures are rightly implemented, these professionals (and their contractors) need to be able to continue to work, travel and access their buildings so that they may continue to provide the essential services and work that will keep people safe and enabled in their workplaces and homes. 

‘For these reasons, we request that: 

  • ‘workplace and facilities management professionals, and their contractors, are included as key workers under the Guidance first issued last week by the Secretary of State for Education and built upon by you yesterday. These professionals play a critical role in keeping people safe and workplaces enabled in the sectors identified by the Government as being crucial in the COVID-19 response 
  • ‘these professionals and their contractors can continue to travel to and attend their workplaces to ensure all buildings remain safe for their users, even in the event of further travel and social distancing restrictions. This will allow the continuation of essential and critical maintenance and repair duties, some being statutory.

‘We acknowledge that such exemption has the potential to cover a significant number of people, so to minimise this we consider facilities professionals best placed to determine which of their teams and contractors are essential and necessary to uphold essential management, including critical maintenance and repair, and achieving safe and healthy outcomes.’

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Coronavirus guidance and resources

As the situation around the coronavirus pandemic has rapidly unfolded over recent days, we have been working to keep members updated with the latest information and guidance. Our dedicated web page - developed in collaboration with our Risk and Business Continuity Management SIG - incorporates advice for workplace and facilities professionals on responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Here you will also find the latest Government and public health advice, as well as valuable resources from the business sector and partner organisations.