Hospital workers to return €1,000 pandemic bonus payment

A hospital has asked a cohort of its staff to pay back the Covid-19 pandemic bonus of up to €1,000 after telling them they were not eligible.

Several workers at Dublin’s Peamount Hospital received the bonus in June this year but were then told they would have to pay it back.

The government announced in January that healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against Covid would be offered up to €1,000 in recognition of their contribution during the pandemic.

However, a “typographical error” is now being blamed for the payout at Peamount Hospital, which has not responded to inquiries about how many staff or payments were involved.

The Peamount Healthcare facility in Newcastle, Dublin offers a range of services. These include rehabilitation for the elderly after surgery, as well as a residential unit for long-term care, intellectual disabilities and neurological conditions.

HSE’s Deborah Jacob, director of disability services in the area which includes Peamount Hospital, said: “Due to a clerical error, some staff who were not exposed to the additional risks listed were awarded the special pandemic bonus.

“As soon as this error was identified, staff were contacted and informed that as with all overpayments, a refund is required.

“At that meeting, staff were informed that individual arrangements would be facilitated.”

Ms Jacob was answering a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin.

He asked why the decision was made given that the workers were in an environment that “justified their admission”, were among the workers prioritized for early vaccination and were in direct contact with patients.

As of August 17, 23 healthcare workers have died after contracting Covid-19

They worked in the catering department and security, he said. One employee was deducted from vacation pay “without their knowledge or permission,” he claimed.

The latest blunder comes as just over 121,400 staff have yet to receive the bonus in the HSE and its funded agencies, including care homes, hospices, home care and other areas where workers spend a day a day during the worst of the days leading up to the vaccination Were at risk of pandemic.

An outside company has now been hired to overcome the delay in managing the payments.

Not all workers will receive €1,000 and payment is staggered according to contracted hours between March 2020 and June last year.

Those who work less than four weeks get 600 euros, those who work less than four weeks are undemanding.

In her response to Peamount Hospital’s erroneous payments, Ms Jacob said the HSE has set out clear guidelines for organisations, including eligibility criteria and the categories of staff that could be considered for the Covid-19 payment.

She said staff working with residents and patients were segregated into specific zones and the people who were incorrectly granted payment were not working in those zones.

Ms. Jacob added, “Following an assessment of all employee roles and activities, including the zones in which they worked during the prescribed time frame, a determination was made of employees eligible to receive payment.”

All managers were asked to notify employees who were ineligible prior to issuing the payment on the June payroll.

She added that the facility regrets the mistake in paying the bonus to employees, who now have to pay it back.

Ms Jacob said all staff have been made aware of an appeals process related to the payments.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly said families of health workers who have died on the job after contracting Covid-19 will be asked to apply for a €100,000 voluntary payment.

As of August 17, 23 healthcare workers have died after contracting Covid-19. Most of these deaths occurred in the first year of the pandemic.

Mr Donnelly said: “Following Cabinet approval for the program in March this year, the Department of Health and Pobal had put in place a straightforward application process.” Hospital workers to return €1,000 pandemic bonus payment

Fry Electronics Team

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