Government to press ahead with plans to provide bonus to frontline workers

Varadkar has said it is not just healthcare workers ‘who have put their shoulders to the wheel when it comes to the pandemic’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: he  said some form of bonus or special recognition would be forthcoming. Photograph: Getty Images

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: he said some form of bonus or special recognition would be forthcoming. Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Government intends to press ahead with plans to provide a bonus to frontline workers, with details due to be finalised in the coming weeks.

Sources said funding for the measures will either be ring-fenced as part of the forthcoming budgetary process or else in a supplementary estimates process after that.

The details of the plan are still being worked out by officials at the Department of Public Expenditure.

A source said the Government was committed to recognising the work of frontline workers.

Unions have sought some form of special recognition for healthcare staff since late 2020, and have pointed to employers in Northern Ireland, France, Denmark and “elsewhere” who have offered staff bonuses or pay increases in recognition of their work over the past year. Unions had perviously referred a request for a pandemic bonus to the Labour Court and it is understood the next date for a hearing is September 13th.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said some form of bonus or special recognition would be forthcoming.

“I think the frontline workers in our health system have performed magnificently, and, indeed, many public servants have as well in terms of dealing with this pandemic, and people more generally,” he told RTÉ’s News At One.

“So we are looking at how we can provide for this both in terms of the healthcare context and frontline workers more generally.

“There will have to be additional money made available to deal with that. I don’t have a figure in mind right now. That is something that is being considered across Government.”

Speaking before the Dáil went into recess for the summer, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that recognition could come in the form of a financial bonus or additional leave. Mr Varadkar said, however, that there were “complications”.

“The Government wants to recognise the work that was done in a special way. That could be done through a financial bonus or additional leave taken over a number of years, but there are complications and factors we need to take into account.

“First, the pandemic is not over yet – I guarantee that – and that will become apparent to people over the next couple of weeks. It is not just healthcare workers who have put their shoulders to the wheel when it comes to the pandemic. Many other public servants have too, in the Department of Social Protection, Revenue, my department – ensuring that businesses got the grants they needed – the private sector in areas such as retail, transport and GPs, for example, as well as the many volunteers I have met during my shifts at the vaccination centres, and they need to be recognised too.

“It would be a mistake not to look at this in the round, and that is what we need to do.”