The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has criticised the Mater Private Hospital for failing to give its nurses the same sick leave entitlements as those in the public service.

In the public sector, nurses who face that problem are entitled to "special leave with pay" (comprising basic pay and fixed allowances) and any Covid-19 sick leave is not deducted from their normal sick leave record.

However, in the Mater Private, nurses must use their ordinary sick leave to cover any time in self-isolation, which the INMO argues would put staff in great difficulty if they fall ill later in the year.

Several weeks ago, SIPTU raised the issue of inferior sick leave entitlements in the private hospital for staff who contract coronavirus or are forced to self-isolate on a precautionary basis.

According to the INMO, the Mater Private has also refused to discuss implementing new pay rates secured following last year's strike by nurses and midwives - despite the fact that there is now a government agreement for using private hospitals for public patients. 

The INMO has called on the hospital to match conditions in the public sector, and has referred the Mater Private row to the Workplace Relations Commission.  

INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations Albert Murphy said Covid-19 was a national emergency, adding that nurses should not be punished if forced to self-isolate through no fault of their own. 

"Nurses face equal risk at work. They should not be treated as second-class citizens simply because they work in the private sector. The Mater Private will now be treating public patients it is grossly unfair that their staff will not receive equal treatment", said Mr Murphy.

He urged hospital management to urgently reconsider their approach, and treat all nurses equally, rather than playing "cynical games" with rights at work. 

A spokesperson for the Mater Private said the hospital would not be commenting on the INMO statement.