Thursday 28 October 2021

Ministers agree to spend €675m extra on healthcare workers pay

A poster in Amsterdam: ‘Paying all bank bonuses to health care workers is the new normal’. Credit: D.Nicholls-Lee

The outgoing cabinet has allocated €675m to boost mid-level healthcare workers wages, following a vote in parliament in favour of a pay rise last week.

The motion was put forward by ChristenUnie and the SP and won majority support. Earlier efforts by MPs to increase the pay of healthcare workers structurally have been rejected by ministers.

Government advisory agency SER said earlier that while healthcare salaries in the main were rising in line with other sectors, the take home pay of a middle income group of nurses and care workers was lagging behind.  The extra cash means earnings for this middle income group will rise by around 1.5%, the health ministry said in a statement.

The rise, which will benefit 60% of healthcare professionals, comes on top of the 2.5% annual pay rise which will apply to all healthcare workers.

The increase will lead to a €13 rise in annual healthcare premiums and a slight rise corporate and self-employed contributions, health minister Hugo de Jonge said. To offset the impact on low income households, healthcare benefits will also rise by €13 a year.

News of the extra cash was given a mixed reaction during Thursday’s debate on the budget. In particular some MPs are angry that the rise will not be funded by increased taxes on company profits, as the original motion said.

Last year, healthcare workers, including cleaners and support staff but not doctors, were given a tax free €1,000 bonus for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

Nursing unions at the time welcomed the bonus but said it should not replace demands for basic higher salaries for everyone working in healthcare.

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