On Your Behalf
Early Childhood Ireland is presenting the findings of our sick pay survey at a briefing session in Leinster House this Wednesday 19th September, along with ISME, IBEC, Chambers Ireland and the Small Firms Association. We are there under the invitation of Senator Mary Ann O’Brien, Chairperson of Lily O’Brien’s Chocolates and Senator Feargal Quinn, Founder of Superquinn. Minister Burton’s pledge in response to our survey in August 2012 that the childcare sector, particularly those employing less than 100 people, had nothing to worry about is not echoed by her own Department or by Minister Richard Bruton who now say that everything is on the table for discussion pre budget.
In contrast with the mixed messages coming from Government, Early Childhood Ireland’s position is clear regarding Minister Joan Burton’s proposal - the childcare sector must be exempt from this sick pay proposal. To propose that employers pay for the first 4 weeks of sick pay for absent employees is absolutely 100% wrong for the sector and would drive many people out of business and straight onto the dole queue.
It is particularly hazardous for our members, as preschool and daycare facilities would be forced to pay on the double for the same work due to the strict ratios of adults to children. Is Minister Burton and this Government really expecting services, already struggling financially, to pay for replacement staff as well as paying absent staff? As a cost saving measure this proposal doesn’t work. Politicians must understand that operating on a skeleton staff is not an option when charged with the safety and wellbeing of children.
At the briefing we will point out that over half of the preschool and daycare (crèche) respondents to our recent survey 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% said they would have to make staff redundant as a consequence; 42% said they would increase their fees to stay afloat; staff wages would have to be cut as there is no option to increase fees within the (ECCE) free preschool scheme.
Have Your Say
For your part, we would ask you to email your local representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can / pre budget about this and other key issues affecting the sector. Together, we have a duty to keep politicians, policy makers and parents fully informed about the challenges to make quality, accessible childcare a reality for our members and the thousands of children and families we support nationwide.
Early Childhood Ireland CEO