Staff at three healthcare organisations still do not know if they qualify for the special €1,000 Covid recognition bonus almost a year since it was announced.
hey work at the National Virus Reference Laboratory, where Cillian de Gascun is director, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service and Tusla.
The HSE staff panel of unions has written to the Department of Health seeking clarification on the matter.
“We have been seeking for several months clarification from the Department of Health whether or not these very important services were covered under their scheme,” said Siptu health division organiser, Kevin Figgis. “The HSE made clear that this was the sole responsibility of the Department of Health.”
He said the query had been raised at a meeting last October 6, and claimed there has been a refusal to give a response since then.
“We have received representations from members in three locations who felt they should be included in the scheme,” he said.
“They were all working in a Covid-exposed environment. We understand the National Virus Reference Lab was used as a test centre when the HSE had virtually no capacity itself.”
Unions have been given clarification that contract cleaners, security and catering staff are included in the scheme.
The bonus has been paid to most HSE and frontline staff working in state-funded organisations who qualify.
It is still being rolled out for non-HSE workers, including those who worked in private sector nursing homes.
Mr Figgis said these workers will have no right of appeal if they are told they are not receiving the bonus. However, there is an appeal mechanism for HSE and staff in state-funded ‘section 38’ organisations. Almost 3,500 workers unhappy with the process for determining eligibility for the award have lodged appeals.
A Department of Health spokesperson said the Government announced a Covid-19 pandemic recognition payment for certain frontline public sector healthcare workers to recognise their unique role during the pandemic.
He said certain non-HSE and section 38 healthcare employees are also covered by the government decision.
The spokesperson said efforts are under way to ensure an efficient and expeditious rollout to these staff.
“It would not be appropriate for the Department of Health to comment on the eligibility of individual cases,” he said.
Last month, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said 66,000 healthcare workers are still waiting for the payment, and 124,000 had received it.
The €1,000 tax-free payment was announced last January, along with a new public holiday in recognition of the efforts of the public, volunteers and workers during the pandemic.