A Cork TD has called for the HSE occupational sick pay scheme to be extended to all Section 39 care workers.
Solidarity TD Mick Barry said that those working in nursing homes and residential care settings must be covered to help fight to save lives of workers and elderly, as well as protecting their incomes.
He said that many of the frontline workers have occupational sick pay schemes so if they come into contact with the virus, or become sick themselves, they can take time off on full pay.
However, he said the case is not the same across the board, and claims there’s a “glaring exception” that must be addressed.
“Most of our nursing homes and residential institutions for vulnerable adults are publicly funded but effectively privately run. These so called 'Section 39' workplaces do not as a rule have proper occupational sick pay schemes in place.
“Typically the care workers in these places are low paid and now face an intolerable two-fold pressure of facing high risk of coming into contact with the virus and being compelled to self-isolate but in doing so being only able to avail of the Covid 19 sickness benefit scheme,” Deputy Barry said.
"It's a scandal that low paid workers who are putting themselves on the frontline in the fight against Covid 19 face having their income effectively cut in half by either contracting the virus or having to self isolate,” he added.
The Cork North Central TD called for economic considerations for these workers to be removed.
“The Government and HSE must forthwith underwrite an occupational sickness benefit scheme for this sector. I think it is frankly incredible that this has not already been done given that our nursing homes in particular are the greatest sources of Covid19 clusters and Covid19 mortality,” Deputy Barry concluded.