“Confusion” is preventing many contract workers from receiving their €1,000 Pandemic Special Recognition Payment, SIPTU has said.
The one off bonus was announced by the Government last year as a way to recognise the efforts of front line workers who worked in the health service at great personal risk to their own safety.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the payment was a token of the State’s “appreciation and gratitude” for them and the roll out of the scheme began in April last year.
Thirteen months on and an estimated 45% of cleaners and caterers have yet to receive theirs - most of whom are thought to be contract workers.
“At the time, they said every worker who had been exposed in a medical arena or in a COVID area would get it,” SIPTU Services Divisional Organiser Teresa Hannick told Newstalk Breakfast.
“We spent a long time trying to ensure that what had been said by the Government will be carried out by the Department of Health and the HSE because we have a lot of people who work as either contract cleaners, contract security or contract caterers across the hospitals.”
Those directly employed by hospitals have been paid but many of those who are contractors have not been.
It is, Ms Hannick believes, an administrative problem.
“The difficulty is… there seems to be a lot of confusion by a lot of these contract service companies how they process the criteria because it’s up to these employers how they process with [the external audit company],” she said.
Ms Hannick said many of the applications for the payment arrive without the complete data and urged employers to make a “more concentrated effort.”
“I would say 90% of the contract cleaners, security and caterers that would be eligible for this payment haven’t got it yet,” she said.
“And we’re talking about workers that have been undervalued and underpaid for years.”
Main image: Cleaning service inside a hospital during the pandemic. Picture by: Alamy.com