A private company that will pay out the Covid pandemic bonus of up to €1,000 to workers in private care homes, hospices and other health centers must ensure no worker is paid twice, it emerged yesterday.
Tens of thousands of non-HSE workers are still awaiting the recognition payment the government promised nine months ago to recognize the risks they took on those most vulnerable during the first phase of the pandemic.
It emerged this week that some Peamount Healthcare staff in Dublin who received the payment had to return it after they were found to be ineligible.
The Department of Health confirmed that the HSE is tendering for outside expertise to spread payment to frontline workers in broader healthcare settings, and that includes ensuring no “double payments” are made.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “The HSE is offering an outside provider to assist in setting up and implementing the process of collecting the necessary information from the relevant private sector companies covered for the pandemic recognition payment in order to make the payment to to facilitate their authorized employees .
“This is a complex process as these workers are not HSE workers, double payments need to be avoided and many organizations are involved.”
Private nursing homes and hospices as well as on-site staff in long-term care facilities under Section 39 for people with disabilities are eligible to apply.
This also includes agency workers in the HSE and healthcare support assistants – also known as domestic help, home care or home help workers – who have been contracted with the HSE.
The spokesman added, “The vast majority of eligible HSE and Section 38 workers have received the payment, with approximately 122,667 of those workers having received the payment as of September 9.”
Asked if other cases of workers receiving the payment and then being asked to refund it after being found ineligible have come to light, the spokesman said: “The department is in no position to accept enquiries to answer individual cases.
“You will appreciate that the local sites’ payroll processes are a separate matter and the department is therefore unable to respond to inquiries about them.”
The issue of overpayment to some Peamount Healthcare employees came to light following a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin.
A spokeswoman for Peamount Healthcare said: “Like all other Section 38 organizations, Peamount Healthcare was directed earlier this year to give the special pandemic recognition award to employees who qualified for payment.
“The HSE has established clear selection criteria and categories of staff to be included in the payment and Peamount Healthcare has strictly adhered to these criteria.
“Following these guidelines, most, but not all, of our valued employees qualified for payment.
“All employees who were not eligible to pay were informed of this before the payment was made with the June payslip.
“Unfortunately, due to a typographical error, a very small number of employees who did not qualify for the payment received it.
“As soon as this error was discovered, the affected employees were contacted and informed that they had a repayment obligation.”
There is an appeals process and Peamount said it regrets any upset caused by the mistake.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/private-firm-is-told-to-ensure-no-health-workers-are-paid-1000-pandemic-bonus-twice-41995718.html A private company is to ensure that no health worker receives a pandemic bonus of 1,000 euros twice