The Government has formally approved the establishment of a new system for setting terms and conditions for workers in the childcare sector.
Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail Damien English said on Monday he had formally accepted the recommendation of the Labour Court for the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee for the early years' services and childcare sector and that the order to this effect would come into force from the beginning of July.
The Department of Enterprise and Employment said Joint Labour Committees provided “a wage-setting mechanism that determines terms and conditions of employment, as well as setting minimum rates of pay for workers in certain sectors”.
It said that in sectors represented by these committees the terms and conditions determined by the committees – which are composed of representatives of workers and employers in the sector in question with an independent chair – may be given effect in law by means of employment regulation orders made by the Minister.
Mr English said on Monday: “I welcome the recommendation of the Labour Court and I am happy to announce the establishment of this new Joint Labour Committee which fulfils the Programme for Government commitment to support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector.
“I would encourage bodies representing both employers and employees in this sector to engage with the Joint Labour Committee process as it can yield positive benefits for the sector as a whole. An agreement on a new set of terms and conditions of employment will help maintain and grow the talented pool of people working in the sector, as well as providing security and opportunity for career development in the early years and childcare sectors.”
The process for establishing the Joint Labour Committee in the childcare area was initiated by the Minister for Children Roderic O'Gorman, who appointed former chairman of the Labour Court Kevin Duffy as the independent chair of the process.
The Department of Enterprise and Employment said the establishment of the Joint Labour Committee in the sector "resulted from collaboration with Childhood Services Ireland, [the trade union] Siptu and the Minister for Children".
It said Mr Duffy had concluded “that all parties involved agreed that the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee is the most appropriate means by which pay and conditions of employment in the sector can be addressed”.
Mr O’Gorman said: “Those working in early learning and childcare services deserve recognition for the hugely important work they do and the benefits their work brings for children, families and society. Covid-19 has reinforced just how essential these services are. High-quality early learning and childcare depends on a well-qualified workforce that is supported and valued. More favourable wages and working conditions are necessary to attract and retain qualified staff. The Government is committed to supporting this through the Joint Labour Committee process and through major projects under way in my department to develop a new funding model and a new workforce development plan for this sector.”