The State has begun the process of paying the €1,000 Covid-19 pandemic bonus – the one-off payment promised in January – to frontline healthcare workers employed by the HSE.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Friday that the tax-free payment would be made "as soon as possible to those who are confirmed as eligible, through the next available payroll".
Details of when the bonus payments will be made to frontline healthcare workers who are not employed by the HSE, including private sector nursing homes and hospice workers, and agency staff working for the HSE “will be announced in due course,” the Minister said.
A spokesman for Mr Donnelly said some healthcare workers employed by the HSE may receive the payment this month or next, depending on when their regular wage payment falls.
Mr Donnelly said the “necessary circulars” to activate the payment had been finalised and will be published by the HSE early next week when a full list of who is eligible will be published.
The payment to eligible public healthcare and ambulance workers, first announced on January 19th, is being made in recognition of their efforts during the two-year Covid-19 pandemic.
Healthcare unions had criticised the 12-week delay in setting up the promised bonus scheme.
“This measure was introduced as a token of 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,” said Mr Donnelly.
“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.”
Any healthcare staff who between March 1st 2020 and June 30th 2021 worked in a frontline environment that warranted their inclusion in the first two priority sequence groups for the Covid-19 vaccine will be eligible for the payment.
The Department of Health said the value to each eligible employee will be based on their contracted hours during this period and will be a pro-rata payment.
Those whose contracted hours are equal to or greater than 60 per cent “whole time equivalent” for their grade will receive €1,000. Those whose contracted hours are less than this will get €600.
Among the workers eligible for the payment are consultants, nurses, lab staff, healthcare assistants, cleaners, porters, swabbers, vaccinators and administrative staff such as receptionists.
The department said that it will “shortly” publish a list of healthcare staff not employed by the HSE who are eligible for the payment and the process by which they will be paid the bonus.
They include private nursing home staff, employees in residential care facilities for people with disabilities, agency staff working for the HSE, Department of Defence staff who were redeployed to work in the HSE and paramedics employed by the Department of Local Government.