Thursday, 27 May 2021

Questions (86, 225)

Matt Carthy

Question:

86. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his plans to improve the pay and conditions of professionals working in the childcare sector. [28457/21]

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Denis Naughten

Question:

225. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the steps he plans to take to improve the pay and conditions of childcare workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27787/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 225 together.

I am very conscious of the need for significant improvement in pay and working conditions for practitioners in early learning and childcare services. The level of pay they receive does not reflect the value of the work they do for children, for families and for the wider society and economy.

As the State does not employ early learning and childcare practitioners, the Deputy will appreciate that my Department cannot set wage levels or determine working conditions for staff in the sector. My Department has, however, over a number of years provided a range of supports to service providers to enable them to improve wages and working conditions.

There are also some important developments currently under way.

In December 2020, I began a short process to examine the possibility of regulating the pay and conditions of employment of practitioners in early learning and childcare, and to examine the suitability of establishing a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the sector, in line with the Programme for Government commitment. On foot of this process, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail has written to the Labour Court, who are currently examining whether to establish a JLC. If established, a JLC could lead to an Employment Regulation Order, which would establish binding rates of pay and conditions for the sector.

Work is also progressing on a new funding model. The recommendations of a dedicated Expert Group are due later in 2021 and will be central to addressing both affordability and quality issues. The Expert Group’s Draft Guiding Principles to underpin a new funding model recognise the importance of the workforce in delivering quality services.

Finally, work on the Workforce Development Plan continues, with final outputs expected by the end of the year. This is expected to include plans for making careers in early learning and childcare more attractive.