Pandemic compensation claim by health staff to be heard

Workplace Relations Commission to hear from unions seeking ‘special recognition’

A hearing into claims by health service staff for some form of compensation for working during the coronavirus pandemic is to get under way at the Workplace Relations Commission on Tuesday.

The Government and Health Service Executive are facing two separate, but essentially linked, claims for compensation by healthcare staff on foot of work carried out during the pandemic.

The hearing at the commission will deal with the claim by the broad trade union group representing employees in the HSE – known as the staff panel – for "special recognition" of healthcare workers with regard to their response to the virus.

The precise nature of the “ special recognition” which is being sought was not spelled out specifically in the claim.


Separately the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation submitted its own claim which sought 10 days additional leave for its members.

Both claims were lodged with the HSE towards the end of 2020.

The HSE said last March following direct talks on the issue that it had emphasised to trade unions that there was an intention to “recognise” the role of healthcare staff during the pandemic.

It said work was “under way to progress that”.

Workers in the State-owned transport companies – Irish Rail, Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus – have also lodged claims for additional leave or some other form of "compensation" for their efforts during the pandemic.

Cash or leave

Minister for Employment Leo Varadkar suggested in February that key staff who have worked through the pandemic could receive cash payments or additional leave as an appreciation for their efforts.

Mr Varadkar said the details on how the workers concerned could be recognised for the contribution could be worked out when the pandemic abated

Trade union Siptu told its members in the health service last week that it welcomed the intervention of the commission in dealing with the claim for recognition of their efforts during the pandemic.

“For months union representatives have continued to push for a satisfactory outcome with some success. However, our efforts have stalled in recent weeks and there is a growing frustration among our members over the delay in having this claim heard and addressed.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent