Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Early Childhood Care and Education
93. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will clarify issues in relation to the Labour Relations Commission Employment Regulation Order for the early years sector; if the order means that a school age practitioner will be paid the same rate as an early years educator regardless of training or qualifications; and the definition of the pay grades within the early years sector to ensure accuracy of pay grade application. [46076/22]
The State is not the employer and therefore does not set the pay and conditions for employees in either early learning and care (ELC) or school-age childcare (SAC) services. However, there is now, through the Joint Labour Committee (JLC) process, a formal mechanism established by which employer and employee representatives can negotiate pay rates for ELC and SAC services.
The Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail recently accepted proposals, coming from the JLC process and the Labour Court, for Employment Regulation Orders (EROs) for the Early Years Services Sector. The Orders came into effect on 15 September 2022.
The two EROs set out the terms and conditions applicable and define the roles that are eligible for the new minimum hourly rates of pay, which in summary are;
€13.00 for Early Years Educators/ School-Age Childcare practitioners;
€14.00 for Early Years Lead Educators / School-Age Childcare co-ordinators;
€15.50 for Graduate Early Years Lead Educators / School-Age Childcare co-ordinators
€15.70 for Deputy Managers;
€16.50 for Managers; and
€17.25 for Graduate Managers.
The EROs will mean improved pay for over 70% of workers in the sector, with specific recognition for different roles and qualifications, thus establishing a wage structure for staff. This historic achievement is supported by Government’s €221m Core Funding Scheme, which I announced as part of Budget 2022, which will see increases in funding to ELC and SAC services to support improvements in staff wages, alongside a commitment to freeze parental fees. Core Funding also commenced on 15 September 2022.
Although currently there are no minimum qualification requirements for SAC, in December 2021 I launched "Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC), 2022-2028". Among other commitments, Nurturing Skills commits to strengthen training and qualifications for SAC practitioners, including through the introduction of a minimum qualification for SAC over the coming years, with funding to be made available to support current SAC practitioners to meet the new qualification standard once it is in place.