Key Worker Categories:

The U.K. government considers the following eight groups of key workers vital to the health and safety of the public. These key workers are encouraged to carry out their jobs during times of crisis with as few restrictions as possible.

1. Health and Social Care:

Health and social care staff are required to maintain the health and well-being of the U.K. public and maintain the health and social care supply chain, including medications, medical equipment, and protective gear. They provide services deemed too important to shut down.

Examples of Health and Social Care Workers:

  • Doctors.
  • Nurses.
  • Midwives.
  • Paramedics.
  • Social workers.
  • Care workers.
  • Other frontline health and social care staff, including volunteers.
  • All National Health Service (NHS) staff, including administrative and cleaning workers.
  • Support and specialist staff.
  • Producers and distributors of medicine and equipment.

2. Education and Childcare:

Those professionals who are responsible for education and childcare usually care for the children of other key workers. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these professionals are required to take care of the children of key workers who must remain on active duty and cannot care for their own children.

Examples of Education and Childcare Workers:

  • Nursery staff.
  • Teaching staff.
  • Social workers.
  • Certain specialist professionals.

3. Key Public Services:

Certain essential workers are required during emergency situations, such as with the COVID-19 pandemic, to keep the response to the situation moving. However, not all workers in the public services sector are considered to be key workers.

Examples of Key Public Service Fields:

  • Justice system.
  • Religion.
  • Charities.
  • Other key frontline services.
  • Death management.
  • Journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting.

4. Local and National Government:

There are certain local and national government administrative workers whose roles are key to the effective delivery of emergency response or essential public services, such as benefits payments.

5. Food and Other Necessary Goods:

All those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale, and delivery. Also included are those essential to the provision of necessary goods, such as hygienic and veterinary medicines.

6. Public Safety and National Security:

  • Police and support staff.
  • Ministry of Defence civilians, contractors, and armed forces.
  • Fire and rescue service employees and support staff.
  • National Crime Agency staff.
  • Border security.
  • Prison and probation staff.
  • Other national security staff, including overseas.

7. Transport:

All staff whose duty it is to maintain the operations of air, water, road, and rail passenger and freight transport, especially those through which supply chains pass.

8. Utilities, Communication, and Financial Services:

  • Certain 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, and 999 and 111 critical service workers.
  • Postal services and delivery.
  • Payment providers.
  • Waste disposal workers.


What is considered a "key worker" in the U.K.?

The term "key worker" is usually used in the U.K. to define an essential employee, an individual who works in the private or public sector in a profession that is considered to be essential to society. Key workers are determined by the state and are usually encouraged to carry out their jobs during times of crisis.

How many key workers are there in the U.K.?

There were 10.6 million key workers in the U.K. in 2019, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

Am I a key worker?

If you work in one of the sectors considered by the U.K. government to be vital to the health and safety of the public, then you are likely a "key worker."

Are cleaners key workers in the U.K.?

According to the British Institute of Cleaning Science, cleaners may be considered "key workers" if they provide cleaning services to businesses or institutions considered by the government to be critical.

Are teachers key workers in the U.K.?

Yes, teaching staff are considered to be "key workers," as they provide a service that enables other essential employees to do their work.

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