Failure to pay student nurses and midwvies shameful – Labour Bill introduced in Seanad today

Senator Annie Hoey image
15 February 2021
  • Labour Bill to pay student nurses and midwives to be debated this coming Friday in the Seanad.

Labour Senator and Spokesperson for Higher and Further Education, Annie Hoey, has today secured the introduction of the Student Nurses (Pay) Bill 2020 into Seanad Eireann. This bill purposes to pay student nurses and midwives at the same rate as healthcare assistants for the hours they work during placement.

Senator Hoey said;

“Student nurses and midwives are being exploited and the issue has been compounded by the fact the Irish government has refused to pay them even during a global pandemic.

“I have said it before, but it bears repeating, a bualadh bos is not enough. Our student nurses and midwives have been working at the cold face of this pandemic, on COVID wards, caring for vulnerable patients. What’s more, they have done all of this while knowing that being on those very wards puts themselves far and above the average risk of contracting COVID.

“Even now, that their placements have been suspended, many of them are back in hospitals working as health care assistants. So when offered the opportunity to stay at home, or find work elsewhere, many have gone back into hospitals which is incredibly admirable. 

“But it is not just during COVID that student nurses have played their role. For years they have been an essential part of the heath care system. It should not have taken us reaching this point in a global health crisis to recognise their contribution, but to refuse to do so now, would be shameful.

“The HSE scheme to pay many students healthcare assistant salaries was used at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, but it is no longer operating. This proves that the government can choose to recognise student nurses if they so wish.

“My bill will be debated in the Seanad this coming Friday in Labour Party private members time.”

ENDS

Purpose of Bill
The purpose of this Bill is to ensure a rate of pay for student nurses when they are working.

Provisions of Bill.
Section 1 is the interpretation section. It provides that –

• “student nurse” means someone following a course of education and training leading to first time registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland

• “training provider” means the Health Service Executive, a service provider within the meaning of section 38 of the Health Act 2004, and any person or body to which the Health Service Executive gives assistance under section 39 of that Act.

Section 2 provides that a period of time during which a student nurse is, in the course and for the purpose of education and training, carrying on or performing work for or on behalf of a training provider is deemed to be working time within the meaning and for the purposes of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.

The training provider concerned is liable to pay wages to a student nurse in respect of any such period of working time.

Further, unless arrangements are made that are more favourable to student nurses, a student nurse is entitled, in respect of any such period of working time, to be paid at the same rate that is for the time being paid by the Health Service Executive to health care assistants.

Section 3 provides for the short title of the Bill when passed.

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