Government rules out allowing workers to claim occupational injury benefit for Long Covid

Government Rules Out Allowing Workers To Claim Occupational Injury Benefit For Long Covid
It observed that eligibility criteria for such payments were set to include the largest cohort of workers possible.
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Seán McCárthaigh

Long Covid has been ruled out by the Department of Social Protection as an illness for which sufferers could claim occupational injury benefit.

A new report published by the department said it did not hold the view that Long Covid should be added to the existing list of occupational diseases.


Following a recommendation by the European Commission, Ireland and Greece are the only two EU member states to date who have not recognised Covid-19 as an occupational disease in sectors where the risk of infection has been proven.

However, the non-binding recommendation does not apply to Long Covid.

The report said it would not be possible to establish “with reasonable certainty” that a worker had contracted the disease exclusively through their occupation.

It also observed that Covid-19 did not meet the criteria for recognition as an occupational disease under the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.


“Specifically, the presumptions about workplace transmission would not be sustainable on a general basis in the current environment when infection rates are low,” the report noted.

It also pointed out that there was no international consensus on supports that should be provided to people with Covid-19 as there had been a wide variety of responses adopted by other EU member states.

Under legislation, the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys, has the power to prescribe diseases for which workers who have the required number of PRSI contributions can claim Occupational Injuries Benefit.

The benefit can be claimed by those who are unfit to work due to some form of occupational disease or those who have an accident at work or travelling to or from work.


The two main payments under the scheme are Injury Benefit which is payable for six months at a rate of €220 per week and Disablement Benefit which has varying rates depending on level of incapacity.

The report said the Government had acted “early and without hesitation” to support all workers who contracted Covid-19 during the pandemic with workers outside the public service able to avail of an Enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week until it was withdrawn at the end of September last year.

It observed that eligibility criteria for such payments were set to include the largest cohort of workers possible.

In addition, it said the Temporary Scheme of Paid leave for Public Health Service Employees was introduced to cater for the specific needs of HSE staff.


The department said it believed that the scheme was “the appropriate channel” through which such targeted sectoral support should be provided.

The Temporary Scheme of Paid Leave has been extended to March 31st, 2024.

The department pointed out that people who cannot work due to a long-term illness or disability may avail of long-term disability income supports such as the Invalidity Pension or Disability Allowance.

It also claimed that Occupational Injuries Benefit would be of limited or no value to people who already contracted Covid-19 in the past as only Class A contributors would get full access to the scheme and claims could not be applied retrospectively.

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