Scottish Government must provide clarity on key worker status, says UNISON

UNISON Scotland has today (Tuesday) written to the Scottish Government asking for an urgent meeting to seek clarity on which workers are deemed to be ‘essential’ during the current national lockdown.

Despite calling for a clear definition of a ‘key worker’ since the start of the pandemic, Scotland’s largest union says there is still a lot of confusion on the ground which is causing undue stress for workers.

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, said: “While we welcome that measures have been put in place to protect our communities, the announcement has also raised a number of concerns for local government workers throughout Scotland.

“Schools will be open to the children of key workers but it is still unclear which local government workers meet this definition, who should therefore turn up to work and which local authority staff are deemed essential to support school opening in this context.  Some local authorities are also reporting an increase of up to 60 per cent on the numbers of people applying for key worker status to send their children to school.

“The lack of consistency over this, and which services local authorities should continue to provide in the current lockdown, is causing serious difficulties for staff on the ground.  Local authorities need to provide clarity on this as soon as possible to ensure only those who are absolutely necessary to the provision of an essential service are brought into the workplace.

In addition to confusion around key worker status, UNISON says a number of other issues need to be resolved as a matter of urgency including:

  • The role of education support staff in the proposed model of remote learning
  • The rights of parents who are key workers
  • A ‘whole school’ approach to both testing and vaccination roll-out, not just teachers
  • Urgent roll-out of routine testing made available to home care staff

Johanna Baxter added: “It is imperative we have an urgent review of risk assessments and workplace guidance to ensure the mitigations put in place are sufficient to protect workers against the new strain of the virus.

“While the rest of us play our part by staying at home, we need to ensure the workers we all rely upon to keep our communities going are safe and protected.”


For further information:

Johanna Baxter, UNISON Scotland’s head of local government, on 07817 120 894.