SIPTU says future sustainability of the childcare workforce is under threat
SIPTU representatives have today (Friday 22nd, January) expressed grave concerns for the future of the childcare sector as thousands of Early Years Educators are forced to draw down the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).
The concerns were expressed following the release of figures by the Department of Social Protection to Social Democrat TD, Jennifer Whitmore, revealing that “approximately 3,200 childcare workers received PUP on 12th, January 2021”. This is despite the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) being available to employers in childcare services, along with a range of other funding schemes. There are over 25,000 childcare workers in the sector.
SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Early Years Educators are being directed by their employers to access the PUP while substantial state support is available to avoid this outcome. The EWSS is in place to maintain the relationship between employers and employees. Laying off staff simply serves to sever this essential connection and transfer all costs on to the State. This will ultimately lead to these services struggling to re-open with a safe and sufficient staff complement when the current restrictions are lifted.”
“Even before the pandemic, childcare was in the middle of a staffing crisis. In full day care services, staff turnover runs at around 40% with the majority of workers earning below the living wage of €12.30 per hour. This crisis is set to deepen if lay-offs continue and will undermine the delivery of high-quality education and care for children. This is the worst outcome for workers, employers and families.”