'I hope it was an oversight' - Thousands of workers excluded from COVID bonus payment

The payment of €1,000 will not be subject to income tax, USC, or PRSI
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.08 15 Apr 2022

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'I hope it was an oversight' -...

'I hope it was an oversight' - Thousands of workers excluded from COVID bonus payment

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.08 15 Apr 2022

Share this article

A swabber who worked through the pandemic says he hopes his exclusion from the COVID-19 bonus payment is 'an oversight'.

It comes as details of the Pandemic Special Recognition Payment have been announced.

The payment of €1,000 will not be subject to income tax, USC, or PRSI.


The value to each worker is based on their hours between March 1st 2020 and June 30th 2021, the Department of Health says.

But community swabber Ken Curtin told The Hard Shoulder his role did not exist from the very beginning.

"The way it seems to be set up you need to be 60% of the time in the location, on the frontline from March 2020.

"So that's grand for most people, but community swabbing as a role didn't exist in March 2020.

"It was a necessary creation of the pandemic - and the first troupes would have been out on site in October 2020.

"So by the very nature it'd be very difficult for those staff to meet the 60% of the time requirement".

He adds: "My hope is that it was an oversight and it's something can that still be turned around.

"And I think that's a very real possibility".

'We were on the frontline'

Ken admits that the situation changed when vaccines came in, but the risk remained.

"The risk obviously would have declined over time, but there was still a very real risk there.

"And I would say - and I'm not singling out other professions or anything else - but literally by the nature of this job we were people on the frontline encountering COVID patients on a daily basis".

And he says this seems to have been a decision by the Department of Health.

"Any of us that started as community swabbers from June 2021 onwards don't meet the criteria.

"The fact that we've been working the last nine months or so in every kind of weather condition - from extreme heat to extreme cold, rain, wind, out in factories, nursing homes, other locations - whatever we were doing over the last nine months, apparently we don't meet the criteria.

"Somebody somewhere in the department decided June 2021 would be the cut-off.

"So they started the clock from March when the pandemic began, and they stopped the clock in June '21.

"I presume the intention was in that window they'd capture most healthcare workers, of which we're delighted for our colleagues in other professions that have been looked after.

"But the reality [is] we're community swabbers, and I'm saying this as somebody who's still working as a swabber... everybody that comes through is a real potential of being a COVID positive person who we're interacting with."

The Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) also says thousands of people are excluded.

National advocacy manager Joan Carthy says: "Frontline workers are not only the nurses and doctors who work in our hospitals or in residential settings.

"They are also frontline workers in communities across Ireland, who went into the homes of people with disabilities providing assistance every day of the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 bonus payment recognises healthcare staff who put the needs of others above their own safety, working in frightening times during the darkest days of the pandemic to make sure people across Ireland received the care they needed.

"Irish Wheelchair Association carers and personal assistants must be included for the massive contribution they made nationwide."

The IWA adds that during the pandemic, over 2,200 HSE-funded Irish Wheelchair Association staff visited people with disabilities in their homes.

Main image: A general practitioner wearing a protective mask and gloves going to take swab test. Picture by: SeventyFour Images / Alamy Stock Photo

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COVID Bonus Payment Covid Patients Irish Wheelchair Association Joan Carthy Ken Curtin Pandemic Special Recognition Payment Swabber The Hard Shoulder

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