Who are critical workers and what is the difference between a key worker?

THROUGHOUT the coronavirus pandemic, critical workers across various industries have been keeping the country running.

So who are our critical workers that we continue to appreciate and support? And what's the difference between a critical worker and a key worker?

Who are critical workers?

It may sound obvious, but those whose work is considered critical to the coronavirus response are considered critical workers.

This means their roles cannot be performed from home or their line of work is not deemed essential in the country's response efforts.

Health and social care

This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers

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Education and child care

This includes:

  • childcare
  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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)

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
  • 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
  • waste disposal sectors

What is the difference between a critical worker and a key worker?

The terms critical worker and key worker are often used interchangeably.

They describe an employee who works in the public or private sector who are considered to provide an "essential service".

Such roles cannot be done remotely.

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