The HSE National Director for Human Resources (HR) has informed health management the temporary scheme for paid leave post-Covid-19 infection will be extended. The scheme, which is open to certain health service employees, was due to end this month.
Revised criteria for special leave with pay (SLWP) for employees who were infected with Covid-19 came into effect from 1 July 2022. Under the terms, SLWP would only apply for the self-isolation period and any periods of illness that extended beyond the self-isolation period were to be treated as ordinary sick leave.
However, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) sanctioned the implementation of a temporary scheme of paid leave for certain employees who had been out of work due to Covid-19 for a significant period and remained unfit to return.
To avail of the temporary scheme, employees must have been identified as working in Covid-19 exposed healthcare environments prior to their infection. They must also have been in receipt of SLWP for Covid-19
for at least 84 days prior to 7 February 2022 and up to 30 June 2022.
When the temporary scheme was announced, the HSE National HR Director Ms Anne Marie Hoey stated there would be no further extension beyond 30 June 2023. If employees remained unwell, they were to be moved to ordinary sick leave arrangements.
However, in a circular on 26 June, Ms Hoey said DPER has sanctioned an extension of the scheme.
It will now apply from 1 July until 31 October 2023.
“This four-month extension is sanctioned on a once-off basis only,” stated Ms Hoey.
“The extension only applies to those employees who are currently availing of the scheme and excludes any new applicants.”
A spokesperson for the HSE told the Medical Independent the estimated number of staff on post-Covid leave from the HSE and Section 38 agencies in May 2023 was 136 whole-time-equivalents.