I thank the Deputy for his question. The Government acknowledges the contribution of our front-line healthcare workers and all workers across the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The value of the contribution made by our front-line workers across the economy cannot be overstated. Their hard work and sacrifice have been crucial to getting the country through this pandemic and the Government is committed to recognising those efforts.
Working together has been a key element of the Government’s approach to the pandemic to date and this should form part of any approach to recognition. It is important that in deciding on our approach to recognition, we recognise the contribution of workers across the public and private sector. The Government must consider the whole of society and the economy in its deliberations on this matter.
My Government colleagues and I will be considering many issues regarding recognition. In addition to the breadth of recognition, the timing and service delivery impact of any approach must be taken into account. I assure the Deputy that this issue is a priority for the Government and will be addressed in the near future.
The claim for ten days' additional leave for public service healthcare workers for special recognition due to Covid-19 was referred to the Labour Court and the hearing took place on Monday, 13 September. As the Deputy knows, earlier this week the Labour Court issued its recommendation, which the HSE will now consider. While the HSE is the party directly involved in the Labour Court hearings, my Department will work with it to assist it in bringing the matter to a conclusion in the coming weeks. It would not be appropriate for me to comment in any further detail at this point. I look forward to engaging with the Deputy further on his supplementary questions.