Sick pay needed for childcare workers
Labour Spokesperson on Disability, Children and Equality, Senator Ivana Bacik, has called on the Government to introduce sick pay for childcare workers.
Senator Bacik was speaking in support of the SIPTU pre-budget submission for the childcare sector which called for the introduction of a living wage guarantee to help retain educators in the sector; and the introduction of an entitlement to five days paid sick pay.
Senator Bacik said:
“We are all aware of the problems with retaining qualified staff and of the high turnover in the childcare sector. These are two relatively cost-effective measures that Minister O’Gorman could take to try and ensure the sustainability of the childcare system over the coming year.
“There are valid concerns that the mistakes that were made in meat factories and in nursing homes could be repeated unless action is taken. Many childcare workers have no access to a sick pay scheme and earn below the living wage. Many of these workers will feel pressured to attend work if they are Covid symptomatic or risk losing out on their income, thereby increasing the possibility of a Covid outbreak.
“I would also go further and ask the Government to support Labour’s Sick Leave and Parental Leave Bill which would ensure that workers who fall sick would get paid for up to six weeks. Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe without a right to paid sick leave; and this has been highlighted by both the HSE Chief and the Chief Medical Officer.
“The Government needs to move incrementally towards a sustainable state focused public childcare model; and the two measures set out by SIPTU in their pre-budget submission represent a first step along that road. The coming year will be very challenging for all of us living with Covid-19; and childcare workers need to know that they will not be penalised if they get sick.”