NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme

Details for the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme

30 March 2022

The NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme has provided cover for eligible NHS and social care staff performing frontline work during the peak of the pandemic and will close on 31 March 2022. There is an additional 12-month period, until 31 March 2023, for claims to be submitted in respect of deaths that occurred on or before 31 March 2022. Employers have an active role in the process of submitting a claim for a deceased member of staff.

The key actions for employers are detailed below, along with further information about the scheme.

  • On 27 April 2020, the Secretary of State announced a scheme to provide life assurance benefits for eligible NHS and social care staff in England performing frontline work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was in recognition of the increased risks faced by staff, and its purpose was to cover coronavirus related deaths of workers in frontline roles during the outbreak.

    In the event of an eligible staff member dying in the course of COVID-19 work, a lump sum payment of £60,000 would be made to their estate, regardless of their salary. The scheme is non-contributory meaning there is no cost to staff or employers.

    The scheme was set out to be time-limited, and it provided cover for deaths occurring up to 31 March 2022. Deaths that occurred before the scheme was announced (27 April 2020) were also considered.

    The scheme is separate from the NHS Pension Scheme, meaning the £60,000 lump sum payment would be made in addition to any death benefits in relation to NHS Pension Scheme membership.

  • To be eligible for the scheme the following criteria must be met:

    • Staff must be employed by an NHS body, an organisation that supports the delivery of NHS services or work on an NHS contract, for example, primary care medical and dental services.
    • Staff will be covered if they interact directly with coronavirus patients or if they carry out vital duties within these care environments, for example, cleaners and porters. 
    • The individual must have been at work in the 14 days prior to the onset of their coronavirus symptoms.

    The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (SoS) has the ultimate decision about whether a case meets the eligibility criteria. The SoS must be reasonably satisfied that:

    • the individual was exposed to a high risk of contracting coronavirus while carrying out their work
    • the individual contracted coronavirus during the course of their work
    • Coronavirus disease was the whole or main cause of death.

    Staff can be:

    • full time or part time
    • permanent or temporary, including agency workers and locums
    • retired staff who have returned to NHS employment
    • students taking up paid frontline roles.

    The scheme will be administered by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) and further details on the eligibility criteria can be found on the NHS BSA website, along with FAQs.

Employer responsibilities 

Employers have the responsibility of communicating the scheme to those that may be affected, and to oversee the completion of the benefit claim form when a member of staff has died due to working on COVID-19.

Further information about key actions for employers is available below. We have also produced a helpful flowchart (pdf) that takes you through the claims process and the actions employers need to take.

Actions for employers – making a claim

Employers have a key role in the process of submitting a claim for a deceased member of staff. The scheme provides cover for deaths up to 31 March 2022, however claims can still be submitted until 31 March 2023.

The process of making a claim is outlined below:

1. The employer completes preliminary eligibility checks.

2. If there may be eligibility for a claim, the employer contacts bereaved families to start the application process.

3. A benefits claim form is downloaded from the NHS BSA website by the claimant and completed by the claimant’s legal representative.

4. The claimant sends the claim form and any supporting documentation to the employer.

5. The employer certifies that the staff member was eligible for the scheme and that the death was a qualifying case. The full eligibility and qualifying criteria is available on the BSA website. 

If there is any ambiguity surrounding eligibility, the employer should still process the claim form and include detailed information about the service that the individual was providing on their last working day. The Secretary of State has ultimate responsibility for deciding whether a case meets the eligibility criteria.

6. The employer ensures that the claim form is fully completed and that the supporting documents are correct.

7. The employer sends the claim form and certified photocopies of the required supporting documents to NHS BSA*

The NHS BSA will process the application and will certify the eligibility of the claim. If eligible, a Grant of Probate will be requested from the claimant. The lump sum payment will be made within 30 days of NHSBSA receiving the Grant of Probate.

Further detailed information about this process, along with FAQs are available on the NHS BSA’s website. Access this handy flowchart which takes you through the process.

*Where the deceased’s employer has been commissioned by the NHS or local authority to provide publicly funded social care and healthcare services, the claim form must be certified by the commissioning organisation.

  • The NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme is separate from the NHS Pension Scheme.

    Our briefing document (pdf) details the different levels of life assurance benefits that the NHS Pension Scheme provides to staff in different circumstances. This briefing includes information for individuals that have returned to work from retirement.