Nearly 60,000 people across Watford, Hertsmere and Three Rivers are key workers, recent figures show.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics shows the number of people employed in 2019 in key worker occupations across the UK, which has a workforce of more than 30 million.

Key workers are those seen as essential to the coronavirus response, and include health and social care staff, delivery drivers, supermarket employees and many others.

Across Watford, Hertsmere and Three Rivers, the data shows there are 59,000 people across the three areas identified as a key worker. Across South West Hertfordshire, the number is 98,000.

In Watford, figures show there were 16,000 key workers in 2019, equal to 31 per cent of the area’s workforce - slightly below the UK average of 33 per cent.

In neighbouring Hertsmere and Three Rivers, the data showed the percentage of people employed as key workers in the two boroughs was higher than the UK average.

In Three Rivers, a total of 19,000 are key workers, equal to 41.7 per cent of the district's workforce.

And Hertsmere has the largest number of key workers of the three areas - 24,000 in total - accounting for 45.3 per cent of workers in the borough.

Meanwhile, the figures showed the largest proportion of key workers in the East of England and across the country are those in health and social care, making up 10 per cent of the workforce in the region.

The data also showed there are 10.6 million key workers across the UK, in a workforce of 32.6 million.

The Trades Union Congress says around 40 per cent of key workers across the country are paid less than £10 an hour, compared to just 30 per cent of non-key workers, with general secretary Frances O’Grady saying they now deserve a pay rise as a thank you for keeping Britain going through the pandemic.

She said: “Frontline workers are putting their own health on the line to look after the rest of us. They are caring for the sick and vulnerable, getting us to work, keeping our shelves stocked and our vital services running.

“Now it’s time for ministers to give key workers a proper thank you. And that means getting money into their pockets now.”

A petition by Citizens UK is calling for all key workers to be paid the Living Wage of £9.30 per hour outside of London and £10.75 per hour in London, including a £1.4 billion boost to care sector salaries.

A government spokesman said millions of employees, including key workers, will have benefitted from an increase to the minimum wage at the start of April.

He added: “We recognise the outstanding work being done by key workers up and down the UK in response to the current crisis.

“We have provided £3.2 billion to local authorities to address Covid-19 pressures, including adult social care.

“We remain committed to helping hard working individuals earn more whilst levelling up this country.”