HSC Staff Recognition Payment - FAQs

Date published: 09 November 2021

Q&A for payments to HSC Staff and Students

£500 FOR HSC STAFF

Further information on the Special Recognition Payment for Agency Workers

  1. Who qualifies for the payment?

Everyone on the Business Service Organisation payroll – including doctors, community dentists, Agenda for Change staff.

Non-Executive Directors are not included.

Staff dismissed for misconduct will not be eligible.

Staff on a career break for the duration of the qualifying period will not be eligible.

  1. Do staff in the Independent sector qualify?

Yes.  Staff must have worked in an organisation registered with the RQIA and holding a contract with a Health and Social Care Trust or the Health and Social Care Board for the provision of adult social care or a children’s residential care service.  In addition, staff working in an organisation with a contract with a Health and Social Care Trust for providing day opportunities will be eligible. 

Staff must have worked normal contracted hours as part of a contract of employment for a minimum of one continuous period of 4 weeks between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021.  Staff on a zero hours contract in the relevant time period will be considered eligible. Staff dismissed for misconduct will not be eligible. 

  1. Do staff working in community pharmacy qualify?

Yes. The scheme includes community pharmacists and their staff. 

Work is continuing on the Recognition Payment for independent contractors, such as community pharmacies, dental practices, optometry practices and General Practice.  

 Work is ongoing with the Health and Social Care Board and Business Services Organisation to determine the payment processes to employers to enable payment to be made to eligible staff.

  

Arrangements for data collection have been tested and are being finalised.  It is intended that guidance and claims templates will be issued in November to enable payments to independent contractors to be progressed as quickly as possible from December.  

 

  1. Do staff working in General Practice qualify?

 

Yes. The scheme includes General Practitioners and their staff. 

 

Work has been ongoing with the Health and Social Care Board and the Business Services Organisation to determine the payment processes to employers to enable payment to be made to eligible staff.  Arrangements for data collection have been tested and are being finalised.  It is intended that guidance and claims templates will be issued in November to enable payments to independent contractors to be progressed as quickly as possible from December.  

 

  1. What about Personal Assistants?

Personal Assistants employed through the use of Direct Payments or payments from the Independent Living Fund or Thalidomide Fund will be eligible for the payment.

  1. When will the payment be made to staff in the independent sector?

Payments to staff in the independent sector will be taken forward in two phases. The first phase will see payments made to eligible staff in care home and domiciliary care providers.

The Department wrote to independent providers on 29 October 2021 to detail the payment and claim process. Employers have been asked to submit relevant information in November.  The information will be verified by BSO and it is anticipated payments will begin to be made to providers in early December.

Further work is ongoing to finalise arrangements to deliver the payment in a second phase to the remaining categories of independent sector staff. The second phase will include the arrangements for more complex cases, for example, those staff who were employed during the qualifying period but have changed employers, staff who have left the sector etc. Details of phase two will be communicated shortly. Updates on timeframes will be provided here when available.

  1. Do staff working in GDS dental practices qualify?

Yes, the scheme includes GDS dentist and dental teams, including clinical staff e.g. dental nurses, administrative staff and practice managers. 

Work has been ongoing with the Health and Social Care Board and the Business Services Organisation to determine the subsequent payment processes to employers to enable payment to be made to eligible staff.  Arrangements for data collection have been tested and are being finalised.  It is intended that guidance and claims templates will be issued in November to enable payments to independent contractors to be progressed as quickly as possible from December.  

 

  1. Do staff working in opticians qualify?

Yes, the scheme includes community optometrists and their optometry practice teams, including administrative staff and practice managers. Work has been ongoing with the Health and Social Care Board and the Business Services Organisation to determine the subsequent payment processes to employers to enable payment to be made to eligible staff.  Arrangements for data collection have been tested and are being finalised.  It is intended that guidance and claims templates will be issued in November to enable payments to independent contractors to be progressed as quickly as possible from December.  

 

  1. Are Private Ambulance staff included?

While the contribution of all individuals who have contributed to the provision of much needed services across the pandemic period are greatly appreciated and valued, it is not possible to extend the scope of the scheme to recognise all such contributions. Qualifying individuals must have completed at least one month's continuous direct employment within the HSC, or, in the case of an agency worker, have been on a placement of more than 12 weeks’ duration. Ad hoc shifts for cover, be they within nursing, medicine or patient transport, are not eligible under the scheme.

  1. The payment is “non-consolidated”. What does that mean?

Non-consolidated means it is not pensionable and does not create a new baseline for future pay calculations. However, tax and national insurance are payable on the sum. The payment will not increase any hourly rates.

 

  1. Do I have to apply for this payment?

The payment was processed automatically for staff in the HSC statutory sector, however independent contractors and the independent sector providers will make a claim on behalf of their staff, using templates provided by the HSC Board.

 

  1. Will this payment be included in my holiday pay calculation?

No, the additional £500 stands in isolation and will not be included in the calculation of any payment which is based on a reference period, such as holiday pay, sick pay or occupational maternity pay.

  1. When will I receive my payment?

All HSC statutory sector employees received their award in July salaries.

For Independent Sector please see point 6 above

 

  1. Will I have to pay tax and National Insurance on my Award?

Yes – all income derived from employment is subject to tax and National Insurance. The Department is however, making payment of up to £735 per individual which means if you qualify for the full award, and pay tax at 20% and National Insurance at 12% you should receive approximately £500 pay in your pay.

If you are a higher rate tax payer you will receive less depending on your individual circumstances.

We recognise that this may be disappointing for those affected, however as it is not possible to exempt the bonus payment, the Minister, supported by the Northern Ireland Executive, has taken the decision to provide additional funding to enable more individuals to benefit more fully from the intention to pay an award of up to £500, after tax and National Insurance.

  1. Will my benefits be affected if I receive this payment?

The Department is very aware that any additional income may have unwelcome implications for any individual in receipt of income assessed benefits, and has been has been working strenuously to try to minimise any disruption to benefits payments. While it is not possible to disregard the Recognition Payment, HSC Trusts will be offering any employee with concerns, the option to receive their award in instalments.  Staff will be asked to opt-in to that arrangement, if they choose to.

Individuals are encouraged to seek independent advice, neither the Department, nor individual employers can offer advice on benefit entitlements. 

Payments will be made as soon as is feasibly possible, however, given the need to provide staff the opportunity to consider their options, and seek independent advice to inform their decision, we are working to commence payment of the award to HSC employees in July.

  1. I receive Universal Credit. Will my Universal Credit be reduced if I receive the payment?

If you are currently receiving Universal Credit and you receive a special recognition payment to make sure your payment is correctly calculated you need to tell Universal Credit how much you have received and when you will receive it.  If you would like to speak to someone about how your payment may be affected, or if you should receive a phased payment over 3 months, you should speak to your work coach or contact your service centre on 0800 0121 331.

  1. I was part time during the qualifying period and worked additional hours, will this be reflected in my payment?

Yes, your part time hours, including additional hours worked, will be averaged over the qualifying period. Your payment will therefore be based on your average hours worked per week, pro rata to the full time payment of £500.

  1. During the qualifying period I spent time off shielding/on maternity/parental/adoption leave – is my payment affected?

Anyone who was off work shielding or on any form of maternity/shared parental/adoption leave is treated for the purposes of the payment as having been in work, and will have their contracted hours reflected in their payment.

Similarly, any staff member who was absent due to illness will have their normal hours included in the calculation. Only periods of illness in which a staff member is on a zero rate of pay are NOT included.

  1. I was full time during the qualifying period and worked overtime, will this be reflected in my payment?

No, overtime hours above full time are excluded for the purpose of the calculating the payment. Your payment will be capped at £500.

  1. I worked full time and part time during the qualifying period, how will this affect my payment?

A pro rata calculation will be done, based on the period you were full time and the period you were part time. Any excess hours worked when you were part time will also be taken into account.

  1. Will I receive this payment if I have left or retired?

Everyone who meets the qualifying criteria is eligible for the payment. In this case at least one month’s continuous service in HSC NI between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021 is required. Former HSC NI staff who retired between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021 are eligible, providing they meet the qualifying criteria. Leavers/retirees who are due a payment will be contacted to advise of this and to confirm bank details.

  1. Will I receive this payment if I left one Trust and commenced employment in another Trust?

Providing you meet the qualifying criteria in either of your employments then you will receive the payment, but will be capped at £500 if appropriate.

  1. What about situations where someone has died in service or left and subsequently died?

Everyone who meets the qualifying criteria is eligible for the payment. In this case at least one month’s continuous service between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021 is required. In situations where staff died in service between 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021 or left in that time having fulfilled the qualifying criteria and subsequently died, the payment would be payable to their estate.

  1. The payment is capped at £500. How will the service prevent someone who has moved post during the qualifying period receiving two payments in excess of £500?

Payments to HSC staff are made through Business Services Organisation (BSO) and will use National Insurance numbers as a unique identifier.

  1. I am a student on an HSC course. Will I receive the payment?

Students who had paid contracts during the qualifying period, providing they meet the other qualifying criteria, will be eligible.

Students on normal placements for their courses will not be eligible as they are not directly employed during this time. These students do however qualify for the student recognition payment.

  1. I left half way through the qualifying period. How will my payment be worked out?

For staff who left during the qualifying period, providing they had at least one month’s continuous service during the period 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021, the payment will be worked out according to their average hours during the qualifying period.

  1. I started employment half way through the qualifying period. How will my payment be worked out?

For staff who joined during the qualifying period, providing they have at least one month’s continuous service during the period 17 March 2020 and 31 January 2021, the payment will be worked out according to their average hours during the qualifying period.
 

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