Department of Health accused of devaluing vital care work

unite-white-out-of-redUnite slams two-tier Minimum Wage suggestion

October 20th: Unite today accused the Department of Health of devaluing the essential work performed by around 4,000 care staff who “sleep over” while caring for vulnerable people.  The union was responding to reports that the Department sought a derogation from the 10 cent Minimum Wage increase in respect of ‘sleepover hours’.  The union also called on Health Minister Simon Harris to state whether he was aware of, and had approved, his Department’s request for a derogation.

Commenting, Unite Regional Officer Willie Quigley said:

“Some time ago the Labour Court ruled that care workers on sleepover were to be paid the minimum wage in respect of those hours – a recommendation that was accepted by then Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

“Now, it appears that the Department of Health sought a derogation from the derisory 10 cent increase announced in last week’s Budget documentation.

“Essentially, the Department’s argument would seem to be that sleepover hours, which might better be described as night duty, are not really work and therefore need not attract the legal minimum wage.

“This devalues the vital work performed by around 4,000 care staff in Ireland who sleep over while caring for vulnerable people.

“Unite is calling on Health Minister Simon Harris to state whether he was aware that his Department had sought a derogation from the Minimum Wage increase ahead of the Budget and, if so, whether he had explicitly approved this request”, Mr Quigley concluded.

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