Factory workers, chefs, hairdressers, and carers were among the occupations with the highest coronavirus death rates last year, official figures show.

People working in close proximity to each other, in lower-paid roles, and in jobs with regular exposure to Covid-19, continue to have higher death rates when compared with the rest of the working-age population, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

For men, bakers, publicans, butchers, and police officers were some of the individual occupations recording the highest rates of death.

For women, it was jobs involving assembly lines and routine machine operations, such as sewing machinists, as well as care workers and home carers, hairdressers, and chefs.

The figures cover almost 8,000 deaths, of those aged 20 to 64 years, registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28, 2020.

Covid-19 death rates for men and women working as teaching and educational professionals, such as secondary school teachers, were not statistically significantly raised compared with rates for the wider working population, the ONS found.

The rate for male teachers and educational professionals in England and Wales in 2020 was 18.4 deaths per 100,000, compared with 31.4 for all males aged 20 to 64; while for women it was 9.8 compared with 16.8.

For individual teaching occupations, the ONS said it was only possible to calculate a reliable rate for secondary education teaching professionals, with 39.2 deaths per 100,000 males and 21.2 per 100,000 females.

The ONS said these were "not statistically significantly different than those of the same age and sex in the wider population".

Men working in elementary occupations or caring, leisure and other service occupations had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19
Men working in elementary occupations or caring, leisure and other service occupations had the highest Covid death rates 

Schools were closed for many months between March and the end of the year, and people in many professions are currently working from home.

Rates of death involving Covid-19 among male and female social care workers continue to be statistically significantly higher than those for the wider working population, the ONS added.

A total of 469 Covid-19 deaths among social care workers were registered in England and Wales between March 9 and December 28, 2020, with rates of 79.0 deaths per 100,000 males and 35.9 deaths per 100,000 females.

Among healthcare workers - including doctors, nurses, ambulance staff, and hospital porters - men had a statistically significant higher rate of death involving Covid-19 (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males), while for women the rate was not significantly different (17.3 deaths per 100,000).

Which jobs have the highest death rates?

Deaths involving Covid-19 among selected individual occupations by sex (those aged 20 to 64 years in England and Wales) registered between 9 March and 28 December last year.


  1. Bakers and flour confectioners - 715.6 deaths per 100,000 men (15 total deaths)
  2. Publicans and managers of licensed premises - 219.9 (19)
  3. Butchers - 207 (15)
  4. Police officers (sergeant and below) - 194.1 (19)
  5. Vehicle valeters and cleaners - 142.9 (10)
  6. Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors - 119.3 (26)
  7. Hairdressers and barbers - 112.5 (12)
  8. Care workers and home carers - 109.9 (107)
  9. Metalworking machine operatives - 106.1 (40)
  10. Bank and post office clerks - 105.5 (11)


  1. Sewing machinists - 64.8 deaths per 100,000 women (14 total deaths)
  2. Care workers and home carers - 47.1 (240)
  3. Hairdressers and barbers - 44 (18)
  4. Chefs - 40.2 (13)
  5. Houseparents and residential wardens - 37.4 (13)
  6. Shopkeepers and proprietors: wholesale and retail - 36 (12)
  7. Social workers - 32.4 (25)
  8. Residential, day, and domiciliary care managers and proprietors - 31.5 (16)
  9. Food, drink, and tobacco process operatives - 28.2 (11)
  10. National government administrative occupations - 27.9 (26)
  11. For men, there were high rates for chefs (103.1), taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs (101.4), security guards (100.7), roofers, roof tilers and slaters (100.5), and waters (95.7).

    Those rates were higher than professions such as ambulance staff not including paramedics (95.2), nursing auxiliaries and assistants (87.2), and nurses (79.1).

    Deaths involving Covid-19 among minor occupation groups (more generalized than the list above) by sex (those aged 20 to 64 years in England and Wales) registered between 9 March and 28 December last year.


    1. Elementary Process Plant Occupations - 143.2 deaths per 100,000 men (120 total deaths)
    2. Food Preparation and Hospitality Trades - 115.7 (128)
    3. Elementary Security Occupations - 93.4 (153)
    4. Caring Personal Services - 91 (184)
    5. Hairdressers and Related Services - 84.8 (13)
    6. Plant and Machine Operatives - 82.3 (75)
    7. Elementary Construction Occupations - 82.1 (70)
    8. Nursing and Midwifery Professionals - 79.1 (47)
    9. Managers and Proprietors in Hospitality and Leisure Services - 72 (58)
    10. Protective Service Occupations - 71.2 (67)


    1. Elementary Process Plant Occupations - 49.9 deaths per 100,000 women (33)
    2. Hairdressers and Related Services - 39.8 (26)
    3. Assemblers and Routine Operatives - 39.2 (21)
    4. Caring Personal Services - 38.3 (326)
    5. Managers and Proprietors in Hospitality and Leisure Services - 35.2 (26)
    6. Process Operatives - 34.5 (19)
    7. Food Preparation and Hospitality Trades - 28.6 (36)
    8. Managers and Directors in Retail and Wholesale - 26.7 (24)
    9. Cleaning and Housekeeping Managers and Supervisors - 26.1 (11)
    10. Managers and Proprietors in Health and Care Services - 25.6 (19)

    Unions are demanding better workplace infection controls after analysis of 8,000 deaths showed lower-paid men are twice as likely to be killed by a coronavirus.

    The ONS found those in caring, leisure, or service jobs are dying at a rate of 64.1 deaths per 100,000 men.

    Those in manual labor jobs had a death rate of 66.3 per 100,000.

    Miya Towse has her hair cut at The Chair salon shortly after midnight and reopening on July 4, 2020 in Canterbury
    Hairdressers and related services had one of the highest rates for women and men 

    This compared to a rate of 31.4 per 100,000 in the general working-age male population.

    It comes as much more employers are asking staff to go out to work now compared to the first lockdown.

    TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “People working in low-paid and insecure jobs have been forced to shoulder much higher risk, with too many losing their lives.

    “The Government urgently needs to beef up its workplace safety guidelines and get tough on employers who put their workers in harm's way.

    “Ministers must stop turning a blind eye to unsafe workplaces. It beggar’s belief that no one employer has been prosecuted and fined for breaking Covid safety rules.

    Care worker Fabiana Connors visits client Jack Hornsby at his home during the coronavirus pandemic on May 3, 2020 in Elstree, England
    For women care workers and home carers were among the highest rates 

    “Everyone should be safe at work but this pandemic has exposed huge inequalities in our labor market.”

    The ONS data looked at 7,961 deaths involving Covid-19 in those aged 20 to 64 years in England and Wales registered between March 9 and December 28.

    The deaths included 347 home carers, 213 taxi drivers, 180 shop workers, 157 nurses, and 153 cleaners.

    When the data were standardized for age between the different sexes nearly two-thirds of these were among men at 5,128 deaths.

    Working-age women had a death rate from Covid-19 of 16.8 deaths per 100,000 people - of 2,833 deaths.

  12. Independent Sage, a group of scientists set up to mirror the Government’s Sage advisory body, last week highlighted an increase in workplace outbreaks during January.

    Dan Shears, director at the GMB union, said: “The deaths of eight thousand working-age people is a devastating and bitter milestone that could have been avoided. 

    “The truth is that the UK was too slow to respond to the outbreak in workplaces.

  13. “The messages from ministers have been inconsistent, and to date, there have been no prosecutions of employers for breaches of regulations relating to coronavirus. 

    “Workers are still being forced to use inadequate PPE, and some people are attending work despite being infectious because they cannot afford to self-isolate. These are structural problems that could have been fixed months ago. 

    “The time for action is now. Ministers and employers must urgently convene with workers’ representatives to address the ongoing and needless risks in workplaces before more lives are lost.”