Covid figures in Childcare settings highlight need for Labour Sick Pay Bill

Ivana Bacik TD
22 September 2020

Labour Senator and spokesperson for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Ivana Bacik has highlighted figures released in response to a Dáil question, which reveal that as of 18 September, Tusla had been notified of 63 incidences of Covid-19 occurring in 62 Irish early years services, showing the need for statutory sick pay for workers in the sector.

Speaking on the figures, she said: 

“I am surprised at the high incidence of Covid-19 in the early years sector. Although these figures relate to both staff and children, this revelation makes clear the case for supporting Labour’s Sick Leave and Parental Leave (Covid-19) Bill, which will be in the Dáil tomorrow.

“NPHET and the acting Chief Medical Officer have already identified the lack of an entitlement to sick pay in Ireland as a potential barrier in preventing the spread of Covid-19 in workplaces and in different sectors, particularly those where staff tend to be on low levels of pay. We have already seen outbreaks in meat processing plants, mushroom plants and nursing homes. With cases increasing across the country, the Government must show its commitment to preserving public health by supporting Labour’s bill.  

“SIPTU’s Big Start Campaign has pointed to inadequate pay and conditions in the early childcare and education sector as calamitous for staff retention and wellbeing. Many childcare workers are neither entitled to sick pay, nor do they receive a living wage. The Labour Party supports the Big Start campaign seeking vital change on both issues – necessary steps must be taken to ensure that no worker with Covid-19 symptoms may feel that they have to be present at work because they cannot afford not to be there. 

“These numbers are very concerning. News that the Government is expected to commit only to reporting back on sick pay in six months is simply not good enough. I am calling on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party TDs to do the right thing and support Labour’s Bill tomorrow. Childcare workers, and those working in all sectors, must have certainty that they will not face financial penalties for being ill.”

ENDS

The figures come from a response by Tusla to a Dáil question tabled by Seán Sherlock TD below:

To ask the Minister for Children; Disability; Equality and Integration the number of early learning and care services that have had a Covid-19 infection amongst staff or children. 24840/20 Sean Sherlock TD

Dear Deputy,

In line with the requirements of Regulation 31 (Notification of Incidents) of the Child Care Act (Early Years Services) Regulations, 2016, registered providers of early years services are required to notify Tusla within three working days of becoming aware of the outbreak of certain specified infectious diseases, including Covid-19, within their preschool service.

On this basis and as at the 18 September Tusla has been notified of 63 incidences of Covid-19 occurring in 62 early years services.

 

 

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