Press Release

SIPTU calls for improved working conditions in childcare to stem Covid-19 infections

Date Released: 19 October 2020

SIPTU representatives have called for improved working conditions in childcare services in order to reduce the level of Covid-19 infections occurring in these facilities which a HSE survey has found to be running at twice the level of primary and secondary schools.

SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Lack of access to adequate sick pay schemes have been found to be a driver of Covid-19 infections in workplaces. Currently only 16% of Early Years educators having access to a sick pay scheme.

“Largely due to the existing poor working conditions and pay in full day childcare settings annual staff turnover stands at 40%. The ability to deliver early childhood care and education safely in a ‘pod system’ is directly impacted by educators leaving the sector for higher quality employment elsewhere. In order to improve this system there is a need for better working conditions and the introduction of a rapid Covid-19 testing regime for Early Years educators. 

“It is planned that childcare services and schools will remain open under increased the restrictions which will shortly be announced to stem the increase in Covid-19 infections. However, Early Years educators do not have the same protections in their workplaces as school teachers. The reality for many Early Years educators is that they must choose between meeting their financial obligations and their physical health.”

O’Connor added: “The government did nothing in the recent budget to address the problems in the childcare sector. This was a missed opportunity to reform this crucial public service. Without radical reform the staffing crisis that we already face in childcare services will deepen even further. The arrival of Covid-19 did not cause the crisis we face in childcare services but without immediate government action it is likely to make it much worse.”

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