Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath has stated that the pandemic bonus across the public sector as a reward for service during the pandemic could exceed €1 billion.
McGrath stated that there was a very significant cost associated with the claim lodged at the Labour Court by the INMO and other health worker unions for ten days leave across the health services.
It’s understood that this would be a minimum cost of €377 million.
According to sources from the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure, if the requests for special payments or leave are met fully, they could take up a huge proportion of the cash available on budget day.
McGrath stated, “Given that you would almost certainly have to involve a level of overtime and agency staff to provide the necessary cover the costs would almost certainly exceed €500 million.”
He added, “And if you were to provide the same 10 days leave across the full public service the cost would exceed €1 billion”.
McGrath said that the emphasis has been placed on healthcare workers which was justifiable but added that “there are many others across the public service who did great work over this time – the prison service, members of the gardaí, the Defence Forces, the Department of Social Protection, the Revenue Commissioners all of whom continued to work along with many other in the public sector.”
McGrath has pledged to bring the issue to a conclusion in the coming weeks but could not commit to a specific deadline.
“I’m not committing to a particular date. I’m saying in the coming weeks and we need to get it right.”