Public service trade unions Fórsa, SIPTU and INMO have welcomed the decision to pay a €1000 tax-free bonus to all those who worked in clinical, COVID-exposed environments and in a separate development to reduce working time for public service workers to pre-austerity levels. From 1 July this year public servants working full-time will return to the 35-hour week that applied before 2013 when austerity measures were introduced in response to the 2008-09 economic and financial crisis. This decision is also seen as partly in recognition of the efforts made during the pandemic. The government has also introduced an additional public holiday in recognition of the sacrifices made, with the date set this year for 18 March.
COVID bonus and reduced working hours
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Portuguese health workers are the latest to get a bonus (50% of basic pay) for their work in working in the emergency situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Netherlands all care workers get €1000 while in Germany so far it has only been workers in eldercare who get a €1500 payment. In Belgium, some health workers are getting €300 while workers in private health and social care in Austria received €500, the same as frontline staff in Bulgaria. In the UK all care workers in Wales have received a payment of €570. In contrast to these lump sums, the COVID-19 payments for health staff
The OSZSP health union and doctors' union have called on the minister of health to ensure that bonus payments for working with COVID-19 patients are paid to all relevant staff across the health and social care sectors. The payments were agreed and confirmed by the minister of labour but the health minister has only contacted directly-managed teaching hospitals and a small number of other facilities to pay the allowance which ranges from 100 (3,70 EUR) to 500 (18,50 EUR) and up to 1500 CZK (EUR 55,30) an hour. The unions underline that all staff on the frontline should benefit whether
While welcoming the proposal to pay care staff a bonus for their work in the fight against COVID-19, the ver.di services union warns that current plans could exclude some workers who were exposed to high levels of stress during the pandemic. The union says that it is appropriate for the Ministry of Health to set rules for how the bonus is distributed to avoid variations in payment across different employers. However, there is a risk that some caregivers will lose out along with large groups of workers in the emergency services, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation clinics and in disability