A $3000 “appreciation” bonus for NSW healthcare staff who worked through the pandemic will be taxed, it can be revealed.
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the one-off payment in June as a ‘thank-you’ for healthcare workers’ dedication during the pandemic.
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However, a bid by state treasurer Matt Kean to have the payments be exempt from tax has been knocked back.
In a letter seen by 7NEWS, federal treasurer Jim Chalmers argued other bonuses, such as the one offered to aged care workers, were taxed and there was no precedent for the healthcare payments to be tax-free.
“There was no precedent for the pandemic and there should be no precedent when it comes to recognising our outstanding healthcare workers and the job they did during the pandemic,” Kean told 7NEWS.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association called on Kean to invest in their workplace and remove the wage cap rather than shift responsibility to Canberra. The union plans to strike for the fourth time this year on Wednesday over staffing levels.
Minister for Employee Relations Damien Tudehope said the one-off payment was a recognition of a workforce that has stepped up “above and beyond”.
“The health workforce went to extraordinary lengths during the pandemic and has earned the admiration and gratitude of the entire state,” Tudehope said in June.
The payment covers paramedics, midwives, cleaners and all other permanent staff employed by the NSW Health Service.
The NSW Health Services Union welcomed the bonus but said it wanted the wage cap to be axed.
“For the last three years, health and hospital workers have been hit by the ugly combination of the pandemic and short staffing,” HSU Secretary Gerard Hayes said.
“Cleaners, paramedics, wardspeople, security and therapists have worked themselves to the bone to keep NSW safe.
“This payment recognises the reality of what our members have gone through. For people on modest incomes, like cleaners and security, it is a massive boost that makes up for the pay freeze of 2020. It will allow many to put in place a financial buffer against the rising cost of living.
“The HSU will continue to push for the public sector wage cap to be abolished, however.
“The NSW wages policy prevents meaningful wage bargaining. We need a system that allows workers to bargain for wages based on the cost of living and productivity, not a system based on the whim of politicians.”
The measure was one of several financial commitments the state government made in June in relation to the healthcare sector.
Perrottet also announced more than 10,000 staff, including doctors and nurses, would be recruited over four years as part of a $4.5 billion drive.
“Everyone in NSW is indebted to our health workers for their selfless efforts throughout the pandemic, remembering for a long time there was no vaccine and they risked their lives each day to care for patients,” he said.
“This record investment will help us care for health staff across the state, providing the respite and backup they need.
“It will also boost staff numbers in hospitals to deliver quality health care closer to home, ensuring better health outcomes and a brighter future for NSW families.”