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No insurance cover for childcare providers that take part in government scheme, warns broker

45 hours a week of childcare in the home will be provided to certain workers from 18 May.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at a launch last December.
Minister for Children Katherine Zappone at a launch last December.
Image: Sam Boal

Updated May 7th 2020, 3:33 PM

CHILDCARE PROVIDERS HAVE been told that they won’t receive insurance cover for Covid-19-related claims if they take part in the government scheme to provide childcare for the children of healthcare workers.  

In an email sent out this morning, insurance broker Arachas has said that “it is our duty as your insurance advisor to highlight to you that under the current framework outlined by your Insurer, Allianz, and by the Government Departments, that you will not have insurance cover for any claim relating to Covid-19″.

It was announced yesterday that childcare would be provided from 18 May to families of healthcare staff at a cost of €90 per family per week, regardless of the number of children. 

This morning, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said it is “her understanding” that non-healthcare workers in the HSE such as cleaners and canteen staff will be provided with childcare later this month. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland today, Zappone said the final list of eligible workers will be published on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) website later this morning. 

“The HSE staff will be eligible also private nursing home staff, some staff from section 38 and 39 organisations,” she said. 

Workers in these organisations provide health and personal social services to adults and children on behalf of the HSE.

A childcare worker will look after the children in their home and Minister Zappone said the majority of the €4.7 million per week cost will be paid by the State. 

Zappone added that she spoke with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and they agreed the “principle of contribution has some merit”. 

A total of 45 hours per week of childcare is available under the new plan.

Zappone advised workers who wish to apply to contact their HR managers and check the DCYA website when the list is published to ensure they are eligible. 

The HR manager should advise on a form to fill out to identify childcare needs. 

“This effectively is the verification then that you are eligible,” Zappone said.

The worker should then contact the Pobal parent support centre to check their form. 

“The logistics are a bit challenging but we want to implement it in the best and smoothest possible way,” Zappone said.   

Childcare will be provided for a period of four weeks from 18 May, with a review to take place after two weeks and also at the end of the month-long period.

Childcare workers that are employed under the scheme will be paid €15 per hour. Normal PRSI payments and leave arrangements will be honoured by the State, Zappone said yesterday. 

Childcare centres for the children of a wider group of essential workers are expected to open on 29 June when phase three of the government’s roadmap begins. 

Insurance

Arachas said that it had engaged with the Department of Youth and Children’s Affairs to call for the government to provide an indemnity to childcare providers and workers.

“We are advised that the Government is not in a position to provide a State Indemnity for this,” the email said. 

Arachas said that insurance provider Allianz has confirmed that all covers under existing policy will continue to apply “without additional charge”. 

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However, Arachas warned that “as there is a material change in risk in terms of the heightened exposure to Covid-19 claims, if you participate in the proposed outreach childcare scheme they will have no option but to apply a Covid-19 exclusion arising out of and in connection with this new activity”. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said that childcare providers are “private sector operators”.

“The Department of Children and Youth Affairs funds childcare delivery through these providers, but the providers and their staff are not public sector staff.  Insurance for childcare providers is provided by a number of commercial underwriters and brokers,” the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson said that Allianz is “supporting the outreach childcare scheme by agreeing to provide insurance policy amendments to its clients, which will enable them and their staff to take part in the outreach scheme”.

“With regard to Allianz’s decision not to provide coverage for Covid 19 related claims, this is a commercial matter for them as an underwriter. The Department understands that the insurability of Covid 19 related claims is an issue which has been raised in a number of sectors,” the spokesperson said. 

Trade union

Trade union Fórsa yesterday said it “received no information about the proposed arrangements, despite repeatedly seeking a solution to the issue of childcare provision for essential health staff since schools and crèches were closed on 12 March”.

Fórsa, which represents over 30,000 health workers, said it had repeatedly asked the government either to make direct childcare provision available to essential staff, or to meet the additional costs incurred by individuals who have been making their own childcare arrangements since schools and crèches closed.

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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