Finance:Key worker

From HandWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

A key worker or critical worker is a public-sector or private-sector employee who is considered to provide an essential service. The term has been used[when?] in the United Kingdom in the context of workers who may find it difficult to buy property in the area where they work.[1] The term was also used by the UK government during announcements regarding school shutdowns invoked in response to the Coronavirus disease 2019 to indicate parents whose occupations entitled them to continue sending their children to schools which were otherwise shut down by government policy, as well as teachers and LSAs at those schools.


A key worker is a public sector or private sector employee who is considered to provide an "essential service".[citation needed]



During the Second World War in Germany, professionals who were indispensable to carry out a military, transport or administrative defence task could be freed from military service in the German Wehrmacht. They could be granted status as a key worker ("Schlüsselkraft") per § 5 Abs. 2 WehrGesetz. The term is still in use if reservists of the German Army (Bundeswehr) cannot attend military exercises, for example.

Coordination of care

Prior to 1999, the term had been used in UK mental health services to identify the health professional responsible for the coordination of care under Care programme approach, but has since been replaced in 1999 by the term Care Co–ordinator [2][3]

House prices

As of 2005, use of the term had become more prominent in the UK as escalating house prices resulted in a gap between household income and the cost of housing. Many local authorities and other public sector bodies, especially in London and the South East, where a "Key worker living scheme" operates[4] have been facing major problems recruiting and retaining their workers many of whom are on lower levels of pay than the private sector in terms of housing in most cases the social rented sector is unable to provide low cost housing for rent or shared ownership.[1][5] In response initiatives have been designed to house key workers, including low-cost loans and shared ownership schemes.[4][5][6]

The key worker living programme defined key workers to include:[1]

  • Clinical National Health Service staff including doctors and dentists
  • Teachers and nursery nurses
  • Police officers, Community Support Officers and some civilian police staff
  • Prison officers and some other Prison staff
  • Probation Service staff
  • Social workers, educational psychologists, and therapists
  • Local Authority Planners
  • Firefighters, Fire Safety Engineers
  • Connexions Personal Advisers
  • Some Ministry of Defence personnel
  • Environmental Health Officer
  • Highways England traffic officers
  • Railway workers [network rail] freight and passenger trains

The definition can be extended to include those support staff without whom the above roles may struggle to function.[7]


While Austria does not define the term key worker itself, it implies it is a skilled worker from a long and annually adjusted list of "shortage occupations".[8] It defines self employed key worker, as someone whose self-employed "occupation creates macroeconomic benefit going beyond its own operational benefit in Austria".[9]

COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, UK schools are closed except for children of "key workers" defined by the government. To obtain a school place, both parents must to be key workers. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said "If only one parent is a key worker, the Government expects the other parent to be responsible for the care of their child/children".

Work is not restricted to key workers: other workers may still go to work, if they cannot work from home.

The UK government on 19 March 2020 defined which groups of staff are considered Key Workers or Critical Workers for schooling purposes:[10]

"Health and social care – This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, pharmacists, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare – This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services – This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government – This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods – This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines). This also includes cleaners in supermarkets.

Public safety and national security – This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport – This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services – This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors."


External links