Written answers

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Joint Labour Committees

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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210. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the contact details for the sections that deal with all ongoing and established grant funding in his Department and in each agency under the remit of his Department in tabular form. [9123/21]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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I can inform the Deputy that contact details for the various grant funding schemes provided by my Department and the National Disability Authority are set out in the below table.

The question has also been referred to Tusla and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission for those bodies' direct reply to the Deputy. My Department's other agencies do not operate grand funding schemes.

Alan Dillon (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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211. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the status and nature of the examination by his Department of a joint labour committee process and its relevance to the early learning and care and school age childcare sector; the next steps to support improvements in wages and working conditions in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9206/21]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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The Programme for Government contains a commitment to “support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order, which would determine minimum rates of pay for childcare workers, as well as terms and conditions of employment”.

To progress this commitment, in December 2020, working in partnership with SIPTU and CSI/IBEC, I began a short process in which interested parties were invited to discuss how best to address issues of pay and conditions in the sector and how a Joint Labour Committee might support this.

The process, chaired by Dr Kevin Duffy on examining pay and conditions in the early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) sector, concluded in the last few days. I am awaiting the report from Dr Duffy outlining the issues and possible solutions raised in the process, and making a recommendation on next steps. I am hopeful that implementation of his recommendation will support progress in addressing pay and conditions in the sector.

I am very conscious need for significant improvement in pay and working conditions for practitioners in ELC and SAC 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. It also contributes to challenges of recruitment and retention of staff, which are key to the consistency of care provided to children. The most recent published data indicates that the average hourly wage in the sector was €12.55 in mid-2019.

As the State is not the employer, my Department does not set wage levels nor determine working conditions for staff working 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. Work is also underway to develop a new funding model for early ELC and SAC. Among the priorities for the Expert Group developing the new funding model is the identification of mechanisms to address pay and conditions.

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