What is a Key Worker?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Key workers are employees who are considered to provide essential services to a business enterprise. In some nations, such as the United Kingdom, a key worker is often a public sector employee who is engaged in providing a service considered essential to the community. Many nations who recognize certain public sector employees as being key or crucial to the welfare of the community will provide incentives to attract qualified personnel for key positions that are currently open, such as assistance with housing.

When referring to employees within a corporate environment, a key worker is often an employee with highly specialized skills that are important to the ongoing operation of the company. Employees of this type may be chief executive officers, chief financial officers, or a technical professional who is responsible for the development and operation of some type of proprietary systems. In order to secure the services of this type of key professional, companies will often provide employment packages with a number of customized incentives, including stock options, generous salaries, and other benefits that are outside the scope of the general employment package.


The identification of a key worker is also sometimes necessary for insurance purposes. Some companies carry insurance coverage on key employees that aids in offsetting the costs of replacing that employee in the event of a sudden death or injury that renders the employee unable to continue in his or her capacity. Insurance providers offering this option normally have specific criteria that must be met in order for the coverage to be approved and extended.

In the public sector in the UK and a number of other countries around the world, the key worker is typically someone employed in a specific role that provides significant benefits to the community at large. Law enforcement officers, teachers, and healthcare professionals are often considered essential workers in the life and well-being of a community. In addition, firefighters, therapists, counselors and social workers are also generally included among a community’s key workers.

Municipalities sometimes offer incentives that help to attract and retain individuals who are qualified to function in different key worker positions. One of the more common incentives has to do with assisting these workers in securing housing within the community. This assistance may take the form of arranging for mortgage loans with highly competitive interest rates, or even providing discounts on rental housing. Other incentives such as enhanced retirement plans or additions to basic healthcare plans are also often an option. By providing incentives that motivate qualified individuals to remain within the community over the long-term, the costs of training new employees is kept to a minimum and essential services can continue without interruption.


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