We’ve received numerous calls from members who have been told by schools that, in their opinion, the members are either 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.

Local 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 refer to bank staff specifically.

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

Advice To Members

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 if schools won’t accept them on Monday morning.

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 716029 (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 this position. Again, the Advice Team can assist you with this if necessary; please call us on 01234 716029 (choose Option 1). Where necessary, the Union will involve itself in helping members enforce their rights with schools.

Critical Banking 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, but the following examples may be of use:

  • 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.

Confused?

If you’re confused by information from different sources, that is hardly surprising. The Government is clearly doing a good job in very difficult circumstances but announcements are being made ahead of full guidance being provided, leaving news media to interpret what the Government plans. This is causing confusion and members should be wary of assuming that they know what entitlements they may or may not receive.

For example, there is a widespread misconception that workers who self-isolate will necessarily receive 80% of their normal pay under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. This is not what the Government has said and indeed some companies have said staff will have to take unpaid leave or receive Statutory Sick Pay.

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