The Government published a list of ‘key workers’ on Friday 20 March 2020 whose children will continue to be cared for at school amid the coronavirus pandemic – but the British Cleaning Council has raised concerns that cleaners have been omitted from the list.
The Government has requested that all schools provide optional care for a limited number of children, which includes critical and key workers, stating on Gov.UK:
“If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Education and childcareIf workers think they fall within the critical categories above, they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.”
Key public services
Local and national government
Food and other necessary goods
Public safety and national security
Utilities, communication and financial services
– Gov.UK website
Paul K Thrupp, Chairman – British Cleaning Council, spoke out on the omission:
"As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together as an industry, it is my duty to keep you informed about how the British Cleaning Council (BCC) is campaigning to ensure that people within our industry are viewed as essential ‘critical or key workers’ who are needed more than ever to ensure we not only maintain but elevate hygiene standards in the UK in order to come out of this crisis quicker.
The BCC and its members have the staff, products, equipment and machinery to reduce the risk to human health by providing & maintaining clean, sanitised and safe premises and environments. Our regular day to day cleaning staff and our specialist and periodical industrial and window cleaning staff all have a major part in improving the environmental hygiene of the UK.
Even in lockdown, premises and particularly education, retail, healthcare establishments and care homes will require more frequent sanitisation regimes at what may well be a premium time to do so. Our cleaning staff throughout the UK have the expertise, training and knowledge to carry out sanitisation, hygiene, clinical or decontamination cleans so it is essential that the workforce are kept available by being identified as ‘critical or key workers’ by the Prime Minister and the British Government.
Additionally, our cleaning product suppliers need to remain at work to provide the consumables and products to clean with, from wipes and paper products, to disinfectants, sanitisers and cleaning products in general. And our machinery and equipment providers need to produce and supply specialist cleaning equipment that our staff can use.
The cleaning industry represents nearly 4% of the UK workforce and if we do not identify our people as ‘critical or key workers’ then hygiene in the UK will drop with the effect that the virus may flourish."