Coronavirus: Mater Private criticised over sick pay for staff who contract Covid-19

Siptu says hospital’s staff must rely on existing sick leave arrangements amid outbreak

The trade union Siptu has criticised management at the Mater Private hospital in Dublin over arrangements for staff who have to take sick leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The trade union Siptu has criticised management at the Mater Private hospital in Dublin over arrangements for staff who have to take sick leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

The trade union Siptu has criticised management at the Mater Private hospital in Dublin over arrangements for staff who have to take sick leave due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The union said the hospital had told its representatives that staff who needed to self-isolate or who became ill with the Covid-19 virus must use their existing sick pay scheme to support them through this period.

Furthermore, Siptu understands and has confronted management on the issue of directing staff to claim the Government’s special Covid-19 sick payment of €305 per week and return it to the hospital.

The union said this payment was only available to employees whose employers would not pay sick pay.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said other private hospital providers and the HSE “did not count time out of work for self-isolation or those unfortunate enough to contract the disease as a normal illness to be funded by the sick pay scheme.

“As our country faces into a health crisis, [in] which as yet we have no understanding of when the disease will peak or end, we understand that private hospitals may become part of the frontline for treating patients with Covid-19 as the HSE secure additional bed capacity and treatment facilities as and when required.

“The Mater Hospital needs to step in line as a partner in the fight against this disease and support health workers who may in the weeks ahead be expected to join their public sector counterparts in the frontline battle. To date on a national basis some health workers have contracted the disease, and we are convinced that the protocol and supports in for health workers employed in the HSE has helped early action through direction to self-isolate or treatment where required. I make a special plea to the Mater Private hospital group to reverse their position and come in line with the HSE and other major private hospital providers.”

Waiving requirement

The Mater Private said on Friday that in order to better support its staff, it was temporarily waiving the requirement that they had to have completed one year of service before eligibility to avail of sick leave benefit. However, this waiver was exclusively for Covid-19 cases of medically certified self-isolation and/or diagnosis.

“We will also provide exceptional sick pay to staff who contract Covid-19 if they have already exhausted their normal sick leave allowance. We will require staff to supply medical certification as soon as is practical, covering any absences of sick leave,” it said.

“Staff who are on sick leave or who have been medically certified to self-quarantine for any Covid-19 instance will receive their full sick pay entitlement, minus the appropriate social welfare payment that applies. All staff are required to apply to claim the appropriate illness benefit payment from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, in line with standard sick leave procedure.”