THE GOVERNMENT has announced a €1,000 'recognition payment' to frontline healthcare workers for their efforts during the pandemic.
The payment is tax-free, and an equivalent payment will be provided for relevant staff in private sector nursing homes and hospices that were affected by Covid-19.
Those who will be eligible for the payment include hospital porters, cleaners, ambulance workers, student nurses defence forces personnel who were deployed by the HSE testing and vaccination centres.
Today, the government also announced a once-off public holiday on Friday 18 March 2022 in recognition of the efforts of the general public, volunteers and all workers during the pandemic.
This effectively creates a two-day bank holiday beginning on St Patrick's Day, Thursday 17 March.
"This is a balanced package of measures that will benefit all workers across the economy, while also recognising in particular the efforts of healthcare workers," a statement from government said.
The new public holiday will be followed by a day of remembrance and recognition to take place over St Patrick’s weekend.
From 2023, there will be a new permanent bank holiday established in celebration of Imbolc/St Brigid'd Day, which will fall on the first Monday in every February.
However, in the case where St Brigid's Day (1 February) falls on a Friday, that Friday will be the bank holiday.
Announcing the new public holiday, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment Leo Varadkar said:
"A once-off public holiday, a Day of Remembrance and Recognition, will be held in memory of the more than 9,000 people who have died on the island of Ireland with Covid.
"It will also recognise, and say thank you, to the volunteers, the Irish people, and to all the workers who gave their all in the fight against Covid. We decided to make this decision now on a public holiday, rather than wait until the pandemic is over, because so many have already given so much. It also roughly marks the second anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic in Ireland."
Varadkar also noted how it will be the first public holiday named after a woman.
"The creation of a tenth public holiday will bring Ireland more into line with the European average and it is one of five new workers’ rights that I am establishing this year," he continued. "
The others are the right to statutory sick pay, the right to request remote working, new rights around redundancy for people laid off during the pandemic, and better protection of workplace tips.”
Speaking about the payment to frontline workers, he said it as being given "in recognition of their work in dangerous ad challenging conditions during the pandemic, and for the thousands of lives saved as a result of their efforts."