Thursday, 15 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
190. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 459 of 29 September 2020, the way in which she expects schools to be able to continue to pay the wages of secretaries and caretakers, which were increased between 2016 and 2019; if she is withdrawing the financial support that made the increases possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30751/20]
As the Deputy is aware, following an arbitration process a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 was awarded for staff and a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 was phased in over that period. This arrangement applied to all recognised Primary Schools and Post-Primary schools in the Free Education Scheme and was designed to be of greatest benefit to secretaries and caretakers being paid the national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour or less.
Under section 24 of the Education Act, 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act, 2012) the board of management is the employer of teachers and other staff of the school and has a duty to comply with current legislation including payment of the national minimum wage.
Where schools, like the one referred to by the Deputy, were paying less than the national minimum hourly rate at that time, additional funding was made available to assist them in meeting the costs associated with the increase during the period of the agreement.
Schools are permitted to regard the capitation and ancillary grants as a combined grant and in the period since 2015 there has been a combined increase in the rate of these grants of €37 per pupil. Furthermore, these grants are paid based on a minimum enrolment of 60 pupils. In 2020 the school referred to by the Deputy received circa €21,000 in standard capitation related funding. A further €3,046 funding has also been made available to support the school in reopening in recognition of the challenges faced in ensuring the safe return of students and staff in the context of COVID-19.
It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs.