The Government is under pressure to clarify the categories of frontline health workers who will qualify for the €1,000 bonus payment announced last week.
The Cabinet announced the bonus along with a new public holiday last week, generating an immediate demand for inclusion from interest groups.
Officials are working on a narrow definition of eligibility based on exposure to Covid-19 and is expected to communicate this with the Health Service Executive later this week.
The tax-free bonus is to be "ring-fenced” for staff “ordinarily on site in Covid-19 exposed healthcare environments". It said it will apply to 100,000 workers and cost taxpayers €100m.
However, pharmacists who worked on the frontline have also demanded inclusion, as have rank-and-file gardaí who were also exposed to the virus, along with retail workers and family carers. GPs will be excluded from the scheme.
The Department of Health has said those eligible will include those seconded to frontline roles such as Defence Forces staff , those who worked at testing centres and students on placement in healthcare sites.
Staff at private hospitals and private ambulance companies will not qualify.
However, private ambulances were deployed during the pandemic to transfer Covid and non-Covid-19 patients and at least one private operator has written to the Health Minister demanding inclusion.
Frontline staff in private nursing homes and hospices affected by Covid-19 will receive an “equivalent payment”, the Government has said.
Undertakers and their staff, mortuary technicians and embalmers who tended to those who died of Covid-19 have also been overlooked so far.
The Irish Association of Funeral Directors has not yet asked for its members to be included.
Martin Thompson, of Thompson Funeral Directors in Co Athy, Kildare, said while healthcare workers cared for those battling Covid-19, undertakers and embalmers cared for those who died with the disease.
“We were the great forgotten. We were not first response, but we were last response,” he said. “We have seen it from a different angle.”
He said the association provided online counselling and supports for members throughout the pandemic.
“Money is money, and it is going to be spent,” he said. “Maybe they should be putting the money into some sort of supports and therapy.”
The biggest challenge for funeral directors, he said, was they were not prioritised for vaccinations.
“We were not prioritised and we were caring for deceased people who died of Covid and we had to do so in masks and in PPE,” he added.
"Once there was a Covid death, that was it. You had to take advice and get all the PPE that you could get.
“When you were arriving at a nursing home or a removal, you were naturally enough having to wear a mask, gown, shoe covers and when you came out, you had to stand in a black bag and remove your PPE into it.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said a panel will be set up to examine categories of workers that “there could be issues around”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar clarified last week that agency workers such as cleaners, nurses and paramedics in public hospitals who were contracted or seconded to the HSE during the Covid-19 pandemic will receive the bonus.
Family carers will not, however. Family Carers Ireland and Home and Community Care Ireland, which represent thousands of carers, said the bonus should be extended to home carers because of the work they did in reducing the spread of the virus and keeping vulnerable people safe at home and out of hospitals.
The Garda Representative Association said all frontline emergency workers should receive the payment, rather than just those frontline workers in a healthcare setting.