Retail workers who volunteered to prepare for re-opening of retail to lose Christmas bonus

Tuesday 1 December 2020

The recent announcement made by Minister Heather Humphries that recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) will receive the Christmas Bonus on December 8th has been broadly welcomed by Mandate Trade Union. Those in receipt of the PUP for 17 weeks since it was launched and who are on the scheme on week ending December 3rd will be eligible for the bonus.

In welcoming the news, Brian Forbes Mandate National Officer, cautioned:

“Concerns have been raised by some of our members that shop workers who voluntarily returned last week to help prepare for the anticipated reopening of retail today (December 1st) may, through no fault of their own, lose out in being eligible for the Christmas bonus.”

Workers who receive the PUP payment for any one day for the period Friday, 27th November to Thursday 3rd December will receive the bonus. Mr Forbes said this effectively excludes anyone who volunteered to return to work last Friday to help prepare for Christmas shopping after the government announced a relaxing of Covid-19 rules.

“Those shop workers who volunteered to return to assist their employer prepare for reopening and who satisfied the PUP qualifying 17 weeks requirement prior to the Christmas bonus eligibility criteria announced by the Minister may now fall through the net and not be eligible for the bonus.”

Forbes added, “In the good-will spirit of Christmas, we are calling on the Minister to address this unfortunate anomaly and to give reassurance to those essential frontline retail workers who will lose out, that their significant sacrifices during this pandemic will be recognised by the government in the form of the Christmas Bonus.”

The reintroduction of Covid-19 restrictions has had a huge impact on the retail sector and has impacted shop workers more than almost every other sector of the economy.

Forbes continued, “Many businesses will have been forward planning and would have required staff to volunteer in order to prepare for the reopening of the business. Excluding these conscientious workers from the Christmas bonus could potentially be a huge disincentive for managing a smooth and safe transition back to some form of retail normality in the run up to Christmas.

He concluded: “We need the Minister to close this damaging loophole and to publicly acknowledge those who continue to serve us on the frontline of this pandemic with a small token of Christmas spirit in the form of the Christmas bonus.”