Healthcare workers NSW: $3000 thank you payment for workers during COVID pandemic, public sector pay rise

A $3000 “recognition bonus” for NSW healthcare workers who have worked during the pandemic will be taxed, it may turn out.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the one-off payment in June as a “thank you” for the dedication of healthcare workers during the pandemic.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Twist for $3,000 ‘thank you’ payments for NSW nurses.

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However, an offer by State Treasurer Matt Kean to make the payments tax-free was turned down.

In a letter from 7NEWS, Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers argued that other bonuses, such as those offered to aged caregivers, are taxed and there is no precedent for the healthcare benefits being tax-free.

“There was no precedent for the pandemic and there should be no precedent when it comes to recognizing our outstanding healthcare workers and the work they have done during the pandemic,” Kean told 7NEWS.

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association urged Kean to invest in her workplace and remove the wage cap rather than shift responsibility to Canberra. The union plans to strike for the fourth time this year on Wednesday over downsizing.

NSW nurses hold placards during a nurses strike in Sydney. Recognition: BIANCA DE MARCHI/AAPIPICTURE

Labor Relations Secretary Damien Tudehope said the one-time payment was recognition of a workforce that had “been going beyond the limits”.

“Healthcare workers have made extraordinary efforts during the pandemic and deserve the admiration and gratitude of the entire state,” Tudehope said in June.

The payment applies to paramedics, midwives, cleaners and all other permanent NSW Health Service staff.

Healthcare workers across NSW will receive a one-off payment of $3000

Healthcare workers across NSW will receive a one-off payment of $3000

The NSW Health Services Union welcomed the bonus but said it wanted to scrap the wage cap.

“Over the past three years, the ugly combination of the pandemic and staffing shortages has affected health care and hospital workers,” HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes said.

“Cleaners, paramedics, wardens, security guards and therapists have worked to the bone to keep NSW safe.

“This payment recognizes the reality of what our members have been through. For those on modest incomes, like cleaners and security guards, this is a massive boost, offsetting the 2020 pay freeze. In this way, many can build up a financial buffer against the rising cost of living.

“However, HSU will continue to campaign for the abolition of the wage cap in the public sector.

“NSW wage policy prevents meaningful wage negotiations. We need a system that allows workers to negotiate wages based on the cost of living and productivity, not a system based on the whim of politicians.”

Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the payment at Liverpool hospital on Monday. Recognition: AAP

The measure was one of several financial commitments made by the state government in June related to healthcare.

Perrottet also announced that it would hire more than 10,000 employees, including doctors and nurses, in a $4.5 billion move over four years.

“Everyone in NSW owes a debt of gratitude to our health workers for their selfless efforts during the pandemic, remembering that there was no vaccine for a long time and they risked their lives to care for patients every day,” he said.

“This record-breaking investment will help us serve healthcare workers across the state and provide them with the rest and support they need.

“It will also increase the number of staff in hospitals to provide quality healthcare closer to home, ensuring better health outcomes and a brighter future for NSW families.” Healthcare workers NSW: $3000 thank you payment for workers during COVID pandemic, public sector pay rise

James Brien

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