Military cadets, who are scheduled to be commissioned as officers in the Defence Forces on Thursday, are to receive an allowance payment of about €800 for their time spent as contact tracers during the Covid-19 pandemic, following an arbitration ruling.
The 79 members of the 96th Cadet class are to receive payment of military service allowance for the period they carried out contact tracing duties on behalf of the HSE.
The move comes on foot of a case brought by the association representing officers in the Defence Forces, the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), to third-party adjudication under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Defence Forces.
RACO said the claim for payment of the allowance to the Army and Air Corps cadets had initially been rejected by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
RACO argued that the cadets were among the lowest paid personnel in the Defence Forces and “had been taken advantage of during the pandemic”.
RACO said it had maintained that cadets should be employed only in accordance with the terms and conditions of their cadetships “and where disadvantaged in their military career by being ordered into extraordinary additional duties, then further and proper consideration should be given to remunerating them as active-duty personnel resulting in them being paid military service allowance for the period of their suspended cadetship and additional duties”.
Management had argued that the claim fell outside the process for adjudication due to the prohibition on cost increasing claims under the provisions of financial emergency legislation and the public service pay agreement.
RACO said public service management had also maintained that the allowance was not paid for operational deployments, rather it was paid in recognition of the disadvantages of military service relative to employment generally. It said management argued that RACO had not demonstrated how the duties performed by the cadets in assisting the HSE in contact tracing was in any way different to the duties also performed by civil and public servants in this task.
The adjudicator found that the effect of the deployment of the cadets as contact tracers with the HSE was to cease their training and increase the number of the ordinary military personnel temporarily. He maintained that as ordinary military personnel, the cadets had exactly the same entitlement to military service allowance as any other ordinary member of the Defence Forces.
RACO general secretary Conor King said: "This was a simple natural justice case. The cadets were deployed on military service, and were therefore deserving of the associated allowance."