reward | 

€1,000 bonus announced for front line health workers

Unions had written to health minister over delays to promised recognition payment

Health workers on the front line will be rewarded with €1,000 in their next pay package for their vital work

Anne-Marie Walsh

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has promised that a special Covid recognition payment for frontline health workers will be paid “as soon as possible”.

Mr Donnelly said the payment – which will amount to €600 or €1,000 – will be made to HSE employees in the “next available payroll, subject to local processes”.

He said a “further phase” of the payment will include arrangements for staff who are not employed by the HSE, including those in private nursing homes and hospices.

Mr Donnelly said further details of “this phase” will be announced “in due course”.

His statement comes just days after health unions wrote to the HSE demanding an immediate update on the status of the delayed payment announced on January 19 last “out of respect” to staff.

The union letter said the government announcement had contained a commitment to issue the payments by March 31.

“The payment will be made as soon as possible to those who are confirmed as eligible, through the next available payroll, subject to local processes,” Mr Donnelly said today.

“I welcome the significant efforts made to progress the payment of this measure. This is the result of extensive work by officials in my Department and the HSE, as well as consultations between the HSE, Department of Health and health sector trade unions.”

He said circulars to activate the payment have been finalised and will be published by the HSE early next week.

"This measure was introduced as a token of the appreciation and gratitude that myself, my colleagues in Government and the Irish people have for the ongoing efforts of our frontline public sector healthcare workers to protect us all from the worst impacts of Covid-19,” Mr Donnelly said.

"I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all involved – in particular our frontline public sector healthcare workers and the unions who represent them – for their patience and extensive engagement while this important once-off measure was progressed.

“A further phase of this payment will include arrangements for paying those eligible staff that are not employed by the HSE or Section 38 agencies (eg private sector nursing homes or hospices). Further details of this phase will be announced in due course.”

In a summary of the eligibility criteria, the department said employees who were in groups prioritised for the vaccination programme and who worked between March 1, 2020, and June 30 last year, would be included.

Employees whose contracted hours are equal to or greater than 60pc of the full-time hours for a worker in their grade will get €1,000.

Those whose contracted hours are less than 60pc of those of a full-time worker will be entitled to €600.

Those who worked less than four weeks will not qualify.

Those who will qualify include healthcare assistants, support staff employed by the HSE or ‘Section 38’ employers, including cleaners, maintenance staff, porters, catering workers, clinical waste staff, paramedics, and administration staff in emergency department receptions.

Other workers who qualify are consultants, non-consultant hospital doctors, nurses and midwives, medical laboratory staff, health and social care professionals, Covid test swabbers, vaccinators, and healthcare support assistants.

The Department of Health said it will publish further information for other eligible employees “shortly”.

This includes those in private sector nursing homes and hospices, staff working in long-term residential care facilities for people with disabilities, agency workers in the HSE, healthcare support assistants contracted to the HSE, redeployed members of the Department of Defence, and paramedics employed by the Department of Local Government.

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