Life assurance scheme

COVID-19 death in service benefits

The NHS and social care coronavirus life assurance scheme

The Secretary of State announced a new scheme on 27 April 2020 to provide life assurance benefits for eligible NHS and social care staff in England who are performing frontline work during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is in recognition of the increased risks that staff are currently facing and will cover coronavirus related deaths of workers in frontline roles during the outbreak.

It will also cover staff who provide hands-on personal care for people who have contracted coronavirus or work in health or care settings where the virus is present.

In the event of an eligible staff member dying in the course of COVID-19 work, a lump sum payment of £60,000 will 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 is time-limited, providing cover for the duration of the pandemic until the relevant NHS workforce provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020 are withdrawn. Deaths that occurred before the announcement of the scheme will also be considered.

The scheme is separate from the NHS Pension Scheme, meaning this payment will 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 e.g. 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 whilst 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

Where a death occurs, the employer will oversee the completion of the benefit claim form. Further information about key actions for employers is available on our web page.

We have also produced a helpful flowchart that takes you through the claims process and the actions employers need to take.

NHS Pension Scheme life assurance and family benefits

Members of the NHS Pension Scheme can use our briefing document that details the different levels of 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.

COVID-19 death in service benefits

Action for employers - life assurance scheme

Find out what action employers need to take for the life assurance scheme and where to find further information.

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