Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and early learning closures - guidance about key workers and vulnerable children

Published: 31 Mar 2020

Guidance setting out the childcare and learning provision we expect for key workers and vulnerable children during closures of school and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and early learning closures - guidance about key workers and vulnerable children
Key workers

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

Key workers

Key workers criteria for critical childcare and learning provision

Scottish Government, COSLA and local government partners have agreed that it is vital that decisions about key workers and the childcare places allocated are taken locally.

Local authorities will make provision for children of key workers in their areas where this is absolutely necessary to ensure that parents/carers with no other option for childcare can continue to work in their role of delivering essential services.

We need to keep the number of children taking up these places – whether these are in schools or in other settings – to an absolute minimum. The choice of educational setting or childcare may need to take account of special requirements due to the child’s health or family needs.

Only key workers who cannot fulfil their critical functions when they are working remotely from home may qualify for critical childcare provision.

If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be. The higher the number of children in childcare settings, the higher the health risks for us all. This is about saving lives. Where essential, children can also be cared for at home by a non-vulnerable carer from another household. This should be the same person wherever possible (i.e. this should not be multiple different people). This could be a non-vulnerable relative or friend, a nanny or babysitter. Such carers are also strongly advised to limit the number of households they provide childcare to in order to minimise the risk of transmission between households. Where possible this should be a single household.

The use of a non-vulnerable carer also applies to families who have ongoing regular or irregular care needs or one-off care scenarios (e.g. birth of a sibling or attendance at a medical appointment).

Further information: Business and social distancing guidance 

Key worker definition

There should be a particular focus on key workers in posts which ensure that essential services can be delivered and cover tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. 

This may be slightly different in each community to allow the country to address local priorities. 

Whilst decisions are being taken at the local level, we would expect this to include consideration of:

  • Category 1 – Health and Care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; Health and Care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; Energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning for other category 1 staff.
  • Category 2 – All other Health and Care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (for example: fire, police, prisons, social workers), as well as those supporting our Critical National Infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.
  • Category 3 – All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).

We have introduced these categories so that frontline health and social care staff get a place, if they need it, first. Places left will be allocated using local knowledge and in line with the national criteria. This may be slightly different in each community to allow the country to address local priorities. These local solutions are vital to meet the local needs of our diverse country.

We cannot designate whole workforces or entire groups of staff as key workers.  Doing so would undermine the collective effort we all must make to save lives.

Key worker categories in other areas of the UK

The three categories are particular to Scotland. Along with supporting guidance, they have been designed to provide flexibility for local partners and recognise local circumstances, and to focus on the specific role individuals carry out.

In practice, there is broad alignment across the UK, with all governments focusing on workers who are critical to the Covid-19 response and the continuing operation of essential services.

Advice for employees

Please talk to your employer if you are an employee and you believe:

  • you are a key worker
  • it is absolutely necessary for you to attend your place of work to perform your critical functions and
  • you have no access to appropriate alternative childcare. Please refer to the latest NHS Inform guidance on social distancing when considering appropriate childcare arrangements.

Please do not contact your local authority directly, until you and your employer have discussed your circumstances and followed the guidance for employers, below, with regard to exploring all other measures.

Advice for employers

Please ensure you have followed the advice for employers on key workers and critical childcare and learning provision.

Please do not contact your local authority directly unless it is a measure of last resort and you have explored all other measures as detailed in the guidance.

We are appealing to employers to think critically about what staff you consider to be key workers, and to ruthlessly prioritise those providing absolutely essential services to the public in these emergency times.  

Process to establish the service for eligible employees

Please contact your local authority for information about the arrangements they have in place. Further information: contact details for your local authority.

The Scottish Government, COSLA and local government partners have supported the establishment of the Key Workers Brokerage Hub to co-ordinate the most complex range of queries and issues relating to key worker status. This includes liaising with employers and sectors on key worker access to childcare and learning support.

This function aims to ensure that childcare provision supports the delivery of the most essential services and tasks within the local community which support the vulnerable and aid community resilience. The hub can be contacted at keyworkers@gov.scot.

 


Contact

Please contact your local authority for information about the arrangements they are putting in place. Read the contact details for your local authority.