Private care home staff, health workers and members of the defense forces who have been working on the front lines at the height of the pandemic have yet to receive the government’s Covid recognition bonus.
The prize, of €600 or €1,000 depending on an employee’s hours worked, was not paid to tens of thousands of employees who were employed outside the HSE but have provided crucial services in the fight against the virus.
Most HSE workers and employees of government-funded agencies received the bonus announced by the government last January.
However, a separate application process for non-HSE staff, managed by the Department of Health, is ongoing.
The chair of the national staff body of health sector unions, Tony Fitzpatrick, said the department had suggested hiring a consultancy to check who might be eligible. In a letter to the department yesterday, he said it “has not responded to unions setting up a process for payment of the pandemic bonus to members outside the HSE and Section 38 organisations”.
“This is totally unacceptable considering it has been seven months since the government’s announcement,” he said. “We are asking for reconfirmation that the department will meet with the Human Resources Committee to update unions on this matter without delay.”
Siptu Health Department organizer Kevin Figgis asked the department to clarify whether several healthcare worker groups she had failed to mention in the correspondence were eligible, including contract cleaners and security guards.
“They worked shoulder to shoulder when the general public was told to stay away from hospitals,” he said.
“Cleaners are among the lowest paid health care workers. These people were in the wards day in and day out during Covid and they got Covid themselves.
“Our other concern is the length of time this is taking. A decision was made in January and a circular issued at Easter and the then minister made a comment that people could expect it at the next paycheck. Next week is September.”
A department spokesman said the introduction of payment for frontline public health workers in the HSE “remains a priority” across hospital groups and community services. They said HSE and department officials are prioritizing the work needed to advance the rollout of employee payments at six non-HSE organizations and the department is keen to complete those payments.
Employees in private sector nursing homes and hospices, long-term care facilities for people with disabilities, temporary workers and healthcare workers who are contracted by the HSE fall under the bonus pay umbrella. Also included are transferred members of the Department of Defense.
“It is hoped that information will be released shortly,” the spokesman said. “Once this process is released, the department is very keen for payments to eligible workers to be made as soon as possible thereafter.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/nursing-home-staff-among-thousands-who-have-yet-to-receive-1000-covid-recognition-bonus-41935431.html Nursing home workers among thousands still in receipt of €1,000 Covid recognition bonus