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20th March, 2020 by Matthew Potter
Yesterday the government published guidance on maintaining educational provision for key workers who are critical to the COVID-19 response and for their children who cannot be safely cared for at home.
The key workers are:
Includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other front line 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 distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key front line services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 sector.
The most recent scientific advice states that if children can stay safely at home, they should, in order to limit the spread of the virus. However, if workers fall into the above critical sectors then the children of those workers will be prioritised for education, unless you can keep your child safe at home.
Workers should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
Employers should be aware that workers considered at increased risk in the following categories should be working at home, where possible. Workers at increased risk include, those who are aged 70 or older, under 70 with underlying health conditions (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds) and pregnant.
Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required. If your employee’s schools are closed then contact your local authority who will redirect you to a school that is open for children of key workers. Additional guidance for parents and carers of children can be found here.
It may be that your employee’s children are considered vulnerable children. If this is the case, care will be provided for vulnerable children who are support by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care plans.
If you have any questions regarding key workers and the implications for your organisation, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the employment team.
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