SIPTU Health representatives have today (Tuesday, 5th May) called on the Government to immediately revise the date for the reopening of childcare facilities and to offer a special “annual leave credit” for all health and essential workers. SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Unfortunately, the proposed date of Monday 29th June is not good enough for thousands of health and essential workers. Some progress was made last week to secure paid leave entitlements for health service workers experiencing severe difficulties with childcare obligations. However, the Government remains lethargic in its response to an issue which is seriously impacting on a huge number workers involved in the health emergency. The reality is that the scheduled date for the reopening of childcare facilities and services places a further eight weeks of intolerable pressure on our frontline workers. “Many health and essential workers rely on informal childcare arrangements usually with the assistance of parents, close older family members and combined with school or creche facilities. The Government rightly in the defence of older people against the COVID 19 virus requested that these citizens cocoon but failed to address the consequence of this public health policy. The issue of childcare has also been devastating for lone parents trying to attend work on the frontline. While it is a positive development that from Monday, 18th May, childcare workers can care for the children in the home of essential workers on a voluntary basis the issue of how health and essential workers will pay for these services must be clarified.” He added: “It is also time for the Government to engage with union representatives and the Health Service Executive to compensate workers forced to use up their annual leave provision for childminding obligations. It has allowed this matter to drift from week to week continually promising a solution and many of our members have now exhausted their annual leave allocation to provide childcare. It is not good enough. SIPTU representatives are now calling on the Government to reimburse these essential workers by offering them a special “annual leave credit” which can be used later in the year.”