Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has sought Dáil support to designate long Covid-19 as an occupational illness for frontline workers who contracted the virus due to their employment.
Deputy Naughten tabled an amendment to the Social Welfare Bill which could result in long Covid being listed as an occupational illness, allowing frontline workers to avail of long-term income assistance until they are fit to return to work.
“At present only health workers who were out sick prior to November 15 2021, which was prior to the Omicron variant of SARS CoV2 being detected, are able to avail of paid leave which will cease in June of 2023 if they have not made a recovery which allows them to return to work.
“All other frontline workers, including health workers out sick due to long Covid contracted as a result of their work, are now excluded from any support from their employer.
“The same applies for any frontline worker outside of the public service who contracted long Covid as a result of their employment, as they are excluded from the occupational illness scheme.
“Across Europe many countries are acknowledging that some people who contracted the SARS CoV2 virus through their employment, and subsequently developed long Covid, need ongoing financial support including Denmark, Italy, Latvia, and Slovenia as well as countries such as Norway and Israel,” Deputy Naughten said
Yet Minister Stephen Donnelly, responding to a healthcare worker, stated: “I am advised by officials from the Department of Social Protection who operate the national Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme, that Covid-19 does not constitute a prescribed disease or illness as set out in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and that they do not intend on revising this position”.
“This is just not good enough. The fact is that while wave after wave of Covid-19 was battering our health service, staff continued to turn up to work and now that they are out sick as a result, the Department of Health and the State are turning their backs on these very workers.
“This response comes after the Dáil unanimously adopted a motion on long Covid earlier this month, which specifically stated that long Covid should be defined as an occupational illness for all front-line workers and also stated that paid leave should be extended to all healthcare workers on leave due to long covid,” Deputy Nau