Written answers

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
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334. To ask the Minister for Health if discussions are expected for workers with long covid that return to work; if long-covid can be recognised as an occupational health injury for their future at work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12119/23]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform have provided for Special Leave with Pay (SLWP) for the recommended isolation period (currently 7 days), for civil and public servants nationally who contract Covid.

For certain employees who remain unfit to attend the workplace and are suffering from long-Covid, a temporary Scheme, specific to the public health service was introduced to provide for Paid Leave for Public Health Service Employees unfit for work post Covid infection.

Employees who met the eligibility criteria for the Scheme will have transferred to the Scheme retrospectively from 1st July 2022.

For those who do not meet the criteria for the temporary Scheme but remain unwell, the provisions of the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme may be utilised.

Reasonable accommodation in respect of a phased return to the workplace is possible under both schemes.

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, however my colleague Minister Humphreys is currently reviewing the matter.

It is my understanding that an epidemiological survey is planned by the HSE which will provide insight into the prevalence of long-Covid in the Irish population including risk factors for developing long- Covid. The HSE has also commissioned a review by the Health Information and Quality Authority to assess the latest international evidence on Long Covid.

I am acutely aware of the issues experienced by public health employees in relation to Long Covid and am committed to providing support. I have asked staff in my Department to look at available options.


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