News & Media

Labour publishes bill to pay student nurses and midwives

8 December 2020

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Labour Further & Higher Education spokesperson Senator Annie Hoey has today published a bill that would provide for student nurses and midwives to be paid.
Senator Hoey said:

“Today we’ve launched a bill aimed at convincing the government parties to pay student nurses and midwives. The current situation cannot continue.

"Student nurses and midwives are being exploited and the issue has been compounded by the fact the the Irish government have refused to pay them even during a global pandemic. The nursing and midwifery profession has become more dangerous than ever with the presence of Covid-19. Student nurses across the country are risking their own and their families health without pay.

“Before their final year internship, most student nurses and midwives get either nothing or an allowance of just €50.79 per week. At the beginning of the pandemic the government decided to pay student nurses and midwives a healthcare assistant salary. This proves that paying our student nurses and midwives can happen and that now it is a question of political will.

“The HSE scheme to pay many students healthcare assistant salaries was used at the start of the pandemic in March, but it is no longer operating. Last week in the Dáil the three Government parties turned their backs on student nurses by voting down a motion that sought to address the issue. Now we are publishing a bill to keep the pressure on.

“Student nurses are working on the frontline treating COVID patients on wards in hospitals all over the country. No amount of applause or weasel words of sympathy from Government TD’s supplant the fact that they are working for free. It is totally unacceptable.

“Trainee workers should be treated like any other worker and should be remunerated for their time and work. We need to properly value their contribution and pay them.”

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.