Early Childhood Ireland wrote to senators regarding Minister Joan Burton’s sick pay proposal ahead of Minister Richard Bruton’s address to the Seanad this week. It warned: “This flawed sick pay proposal would be fatal for jobs in the childcare sector if implemented, forcing half of Ireland’s crèches and preschools out of business and driving thousands of people onto the dole queue. Minister Richard Bruton must face up to the anti jobs nature of this dangerous proposal.”
According to Early Childhood Ireland, this “flawed sick pay proposal” would force preschool and daycare facilities to pay on the double for the same work due to the strict ratios of adults to children which are clearly set out in the regulations. In its note to senators, it says that operating on a skeleton staff is simply not an option when charged with the safety and wellbeing of children and many childcare services, already struggling financially, will be unable to pay for replacement staff as well as paying absent staff.
In a recent Early Childhood Ireland survey (www.earlychildhoodireland.ie ) on sick pay more than half of preschool and daycare (crèche ) respondents said they would have to close down their service if they were required to pay the first month’s sick pay for absent staff; 37 per cent said they would have to make staff redundant as a consequence; 42 per cent said they would increase their fees to stay afloat; while others said staff wages would have to be cut as there is no option to increase fees within the (ECCE – Early Childhood Care & Education ) free preschool scheme.
According to Irene Gunning, CEO of Early Childhood Ireland: “We want the decision makers pre Budget to get in contact with their local preschool or daycare centre and ask them how this sick pay proposal would impact on their business and the jobs they support in their local community. What they will find is that this proposal is flawed and anti jobs and if implemented this would be the last straw for many childcare professionals already struggling to keep their doors open.”
Early Childhood Ireland represents more than 3,330 childcare professionals who support some 110,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool, and full daycare (crèche ) provision, in both community and private settings. The sector employs some 24,000 people nationwide, generates almost €320 million in salaries, with a further €105 million spent in the wider economy on day to day overheads and annual running costs.