Government urged to reopen childcare facilities to help essential workers

Siptu calls for annual leave compensation for staff forced to take holidays to mind children

Industry Correspondent

The Government must immediately revise the proposed date for the reopening of childcare facilities to help healthcare staff who are experiencing difficulties, the country’s largest trade unionhas said.

Siptu said creches should open before the June 29th date listed in the Government's plans to ease the restrictions introduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It said this date would lead to "a further eight weeks of intolerable pressure on our frontline workers".

The union also urged the Government to provide an “annual leave credit” to compensate healthcare workers who had to take their holidays inrecent weeks to mind children.


"Unfortunately, the proposed date of Monday 29th June is not good enough for thousands of health and essential workers," Siptu health division orgniser Paul Bell said on Tuesday.

“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.”

Siptu said that while it was a positive development that from May 18th childcare workers could care for the children in the homes of essential workers on a voluntary basis, “the issue of how health and essential workers will pay for these services must be clarified”.

Mr Bell said it was also time for the Government to engage with union representatives and the HSE “to compensate workers who were 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,” he said.

“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.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent