Parents And Key Workers

Please note that the Government, employers and other organisations are using the terms “critical workers” and “key workers” interchangeably to describe the same group of people.

Are You A Key Worker?

The UK Government has confirmed the following with regard to key workers:

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, 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 sectors.

You can read the Government’s full publication here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

The publication clearly categorises ‘workers in banks’ as key workers, but it seems obvious that not all bank staff will be deemed to be critical to business continuity.

The Government publication goes on to say:

“If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.”

Devolved Government Policies

The Welsh Government has classified ‘workers in banks’ as key workers (the same as England), but the Scottish Government has applied a different classification which doesn’t specifically refer to bank staff.

As at 21st March 2020, the Scottish Government has said:

“Local authorities have been asked to take this definition as a guide and prioritise critical childcare and learning for key workers accordingly. They should consider any circumstances that mean that specific classes of worker are critical in their local contexts.”

Members in Scotland should speak to their line managers in the first instance to ascertain whether or not they are considered to be key workers. In that context, it’s hard to see many things more essential than maintaining the country’s money transmission system but clearly policy is evolving.

In Northern Ireland, guidance does not specifically refer to bank workers as key worker, but it does refer to: “Other workers essential to delivering key public services”.

Examples Of Critical Bank Roles

Examples of critical banking roles are below. This is not an exhaustive list and it’s essential that you obtain confirmation in writing from your manager that you’re a key worker.

  • Customer contact / call centre staff
  • Bank branch staff
  • Operational staff, including those supporting BACS, CHAPS, FPS and other payment schemes, cards payment schemes, business lending, trade finance, debt forbearance/restructuring
  • Vulnerable customer teams
  • Financial difficulties teams
  • Fraud and economic crime
  • Complaints teams
  • Credit risk and restructuring teams
  • Cash-in-transit staff (i.e. armoured truck drivers)
  • Cash depot staff
  • Senior managers, as designated under the senior managers and certification regime
  • Primary dealer and broker functions
  • Equity, fixed income, currency trading, swaps and other market facing dealing functions
  • Key risk and compliance control
  • Settlement, clearing and margin payment functions
  • Liquidity and treasury funding functions
  • Risk, compliance and market abuse monitoring functions
  • IT, buildings management and other support staff required to keep the above services running, as well as the relevant senior managers and supervisors.

It is clear that staff in SME and Corporate areas should also be added to the list, since they will be critical to supporting business over the next few months.

How do I find out if I am classified as a key worker?

1. If the Bank has not already confirmed that you are a key worker, in the first instance, you should speak to your line manager.

2. If your manager confirms that you are a key worker, you should ask your manager to provide written confirmation of that. Most schools will ask you to provide evidence that you’re a key worker before accepting your children.

My child is being sent to another school which is much further away from home and it will make it impossible for me to start at my usual time, what should I do? 

The Government publication says “If your school is closed, then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.”

If it’s going to take you longer than normal to take your child to school, it’s important that you raise this with your line manager as soon as you know what the position is so that he/she can plan accordingly. If any problems arise, please contact the Advice Team straight away so that we can advise you.

My school says that I’m not a key worker or that I don’t qualify in their opinion, what should I do?

We’ve received numerous calls from members who have been told by schools that, in their opinion, the members are not key workers, or they don’t qualify for school childcare because only one parent is a key worker. It seems that cases are largely being decided by individual schools making arbitrary decisions.

Some members are clearly going to be stuck between their employers and schools; here’s our advice if you have been identified as a key worker and your school is refusing to provide care:

1. Members’ primary concern should be providing care for their children.

2. Members need to contact line managers straight away if they’re in this position and explain the circumstances, following up with confirmation in writing of what’s been said. The Advice Team can assist you with this if necessary; please call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

3. In England, children with at least one parent or carer who is identified as a key worker by the Government can send their children to school if required. Single parents who are key workers will be entitled to a school place. In Wales and Scotland, the position is less clear and to an extent people seem to be being left to make up policy as they go along.

4. It’s important that members also write to the person they’ve spoken to at the school to confirm what they’ve been told. Members should make the point that they do not accept that what they’ve been told is a correct interpretation of Government policy and ask schools to confirm, in writing, the basis for their stance. Again, the Advice Team can assist you with this if necessary; please call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1). Where necessary, the Union will involve itself in helping members enforce their rights with schools.

Will I be paid if I have to stay at home to care for my children?

Lloyds confirmed on 20th March 2020 that that for a 3 month period:

“For all of our full-time and part-time permanent colleagues we will continue to pay you your contracted hours as normal – no matter what your role is, how the outbreak affects what you do, or what your circumstances are.”

 

Updated Government Guidance For Critical/Key Workers – Published 22.03.2020

The UK Government has published the answers to some important questions on key workers, which we have reproduced below (they are in italics). If you have any questions on the guidance published by the Government, please do contact us. The Advice Team are available 24 hours a day on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

Please bear in mind that the Welsh and Scottish governments may offer different advice.

Please note that the Government, employers and other organisations are using the terms “critical workers” and “key workers” interchangeably to describe the same group of people.

Is it compulsory for critical workers to accept their place offer?

No. Many parents working in these critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, or friends or family members with underlying conditions.


BTU Advice: If you have been confirmed by the Bank as a key worker and you do not have alternative childcare, your children should be eligible for a school place. If schools are still refusing children in these circumstance, the Union will involve itself in helping members enforce their rights with schools. If you need our help, please call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

How do we identify pupils who are the children of critical workers?

We know many schools will have already spoken with parents/carers to identify who requires a school place.

If it proves necessary, schools can ask for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as their work ID badge or pay slip.


BTU Advice: Lloyds has been sending out letters to critical/key worker staff; if you believe you are a key worker and you have not yet received a letter from the Bank which can be provided to the school, please refer the matter to your line manager as soon as possible. If any problems arise, please contact the Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

Should schools only offer places to children of single-parent critical workers and children where both their parents are critical workers?

Children with at least one parent/carer who is critical to the COVID-19 response can go to school if required.

However, many families with parents working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.


BTU Advice: The advice from the Government is clear. Where necessary, the Union will involve itself in helping members enforce their rights with schools. If you need our help, please call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

Will critical workers or parents of vulnerable children be penalised if they do not send their child to school?

No. Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list are eligible for a school place. However, many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

How should schools identify which pupils are the children of critical workers?

We know many schools will have already spoken with parents/carers to identify who requires a school place.

If required, we recommend asking for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as confirmation from their employer on what their job is and how it is critical to the COVID-19 response.


BTU Advice: We’ve seen already attempts by schools to avoid taking children of critical/key workers, inventing their own rules. This is not acceptable and members experiencing problems should call us on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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