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key workers

With a shutdown in place, only key workers are encouraged to continue travelling to and attending work across the UK. These workers are allowed to keep their children in school to ease the burden of childcare during this crisis. The rest of the UK’s workforce are instructed to stay at home, and keep their children home from school.

Who counts as a key worker?

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, you are classed as a key worker (and your children can attend school during closures). If you fall within one of the critical categories below, you should confirm with your employer that your specific role is necessary for the continuation of an essential service.

The categories are:

Health and Social Care

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Midwives
  • Paramedics
  • Social Workers
  • Care Workers
  • Support and specialist staff
  • Supply chain staff for this sector e.g. suppliers and distributors of medicines and PPE

 Education and childcare

This includes staff that allows the key worker strategy to work (above):

  • Teachers
  • Nursery staff
  • Childcare staff
  • Support staff in this sector
  • Social workers

 Key Public Services

These services are also required to keep the COVID-19 response functioning. They include (but are not limited to) the following essential staff:

  • Those essential to the running of the justice system
  • Religious staff
  • Those responsible for management of the deceased
  • Charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • Journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting

Local and National Government

The key workers are staff essential to the COVID-19 response locally or nationally, or deliver essential services, such as the payment of benefits.

Food and Essential Goods

This includes staff working in:

  • Food distribution
  • Food processing
  • Food production
  • Food sale
  • Food delivery
  • The areas above, for the provision of other necessary goods i.e. hygienic goods or veterinary medicines

 Public Safety and National Security

There are a number of roles critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel
  • Fire and Rescue service employees and support staff
  • National Crime Agency staff
  • Border security
  • Prison and Probation staff
  • Other national security roles including those overseas


“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

As more people work remotely and are isolated, pressure will fall on essential staff in the following services;

  • Bank, building society and financial market workers
  • Oil, gas, electricity, water and sewerage workers
  • IT and data infrastructure workers
  • Civil nuclear workers
  • Chemicals workers
  • Telecommunications workers, including network, engineering, call centres, IT etc
  • 999 and 111 critical services
  • Postal services and delivery
  • Payment providers
  • Waste disposal workers

 If you need more information, please visit the GOV.UK website.

As a personal note, we at Building Careers UK would like to thank all the key workers essential to the national effort in beating Coronavirus.

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