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Sick pay proposal will affect childcare service provision - survey

Preschool and creche operators say they cannot afford to cover the cost of Minister Burton’s proposal.

Picture posed by model.
Picture posed by model.
Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A NEW SURVEY of childcare providers in Ireland has found that the majority say they could not pay for the first four weeks of sick leave given that it involves bringing in replacement staff to cover absences.

Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has suggested transferring this responsibility from her department to employers.

In the survey carried out by Early Childhood Ireland, almost four out of ten childcare providers would have to cut down on staff numbers if the sick pay proposal was introduced while 42 per cent said they would increase their fees to accommodate the plan.

While 97 per cent said they could not afford to pay for the four weeks of sick leave, more than half of the survey respondents said such a move would lead to them closing down their service.

According to the survey:

The average cost per service of absenteeism in the last 12 months was €2,028, with only 26 per cent of those surveyed currently paying for certified sick leave and 20 per cent paying for uncertified sick leave, with the amount of days paid varying and dependant on the employee’s individual contract and length of service.

Early Childhood Ireland CEO Irene Gunning said that the sick pay proposal “is absolutely 100 per cent wrong” for this sector and would push people out of business.

“We are alarmed that this sick pay proposal is back on the government agenda because of recent comments from the IMF that Ireland is out of line on sick pay,” she added. “This proposal is out of line and we are seeking an urgent meeting with Minister Burton to discuss the findings of our survey.”

The sick pay proposal survey was carried out last month among Early Childhood Ireland’s 3,000 members around the country, with 430 businesses responding.

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