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Government considers Covid bonus for public sector employees, including nurses; vouchers and extra leave may be granted

DUBLIN: The government is considering giving non-taxable vouchers and additional leave as a bonus to public sector employees. It comes as unions in the health and public sectors have urged Taoiseach to intervene in the matter of recognising health workers’ efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unions in the health and public sectors were dissatisfied with the referral of the ‘Covid compensation case’ to the Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court. Both the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive have failed miserably in their attempts to resolve the issue. Earlier, during a WRC hearing, the HSE had said that it was up to the government to decide on the matter.

In a letter to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Fórsa, the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation, and Siptu urged the government to consider offering Covid bonus to the whole public sector. The letter said the delay in recognising frontline workers’ efforts during the pandemic was totally unjustified.

The unions also noted that while health workers in the UK, Northern Ireland, and other EU nations have had their efforts recognised, there has been no tangible progress in recognising the efforts of healthcare workers in Ireland. They also demanded a political consensus on the issue.

However, in response to the unions’ demands, government sources said that the present plans focus on recognising the work done across the public sector, rather than only some workers. The initiative is being led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

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