PlayBoard is delighted to see, and fully welcome the announcement regarding minimum rates of pay for the early learning and childcare sector workforce in the Republic of Ireland. Sadly, the childcare sector has traditionally been severely undervalued in terms of salary levels, and the decision to effectively uplift salaries for more than 70% of the workforce is to be welcomed by all.

As we embark on the development of a Childcare Strategy for Northern Ireland, an opportunity exists to ensure that childcare workers are given appropriate financial recognition for the valuable role they play in terms of supporting children, families and the wider economic infrastructure.

PlayBoard looks forward to working with colleagues across the sector to advocate not only for greater recognition of the school age and wider childcare workforce, but for similar qualification linked minimum pay rates that acknowledge and reflect the critical role of the sector and help to drive quality and best practice.

Press release – Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on 7 September:

  • Employment Regulation Orders to provide first ever minimum rates of pay for roles in the early learning and childcare sector
  • more than 70% of staff working in early learning and childcare set for pay increase following agreement
  • pay increases supported through government’s €221 million Core Funding Scheme

Damien English, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, has today accepted proposals for Employment Regulation Orders for the Early Years Services Sector. The Orders will commence on 15 September 2022, providing new minimum hourly rates of pay for various roles in the Early Years Services Sector as follows:

  • €13.00 for Early Years Educators/ School-Age Childcare practitioners;
  • €14.00 for Early Years Lead Educators / School-Age Childcare co-ordinators;
  • €15.50 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 Orders are being supported by the government’s €221 million Core Funding Scheme, announced by Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth as part of Budget 2022, which will see increases in funding to early learning and childcare services to support improvements in staff wages, alongside a commitment to freeze parental fees. The commencement date for the Orders – 15 September – coincides with the official launch of Core Funding.

Minister English said:

“I am very pleased to approve these Employment Regulation Orders which will commence on the 15 of September 2022. The proposals submitted to me will apply to some 27,000 staff and are a welcome acknowledgement of the importance of the work carried out by everyone working in the early learning and childcare sector.

“I would like to thank the members of the Joint Labour Committee and those interested parties who made submissions as part of the public consultation for their contributions to this process. The Early Years Services Joint Labour Committee is a good example of how effective the reformed Joint Labour Committee system can be when representatives of employees and employers voluntarily negotiate together to identify a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Minister O’Gorman has welcomed Minister English’s acceptance of the Early Years Services Employment Regulation Orders as they will deliver improved pay and conditions for the large majority of those working in the sector, will support career pathways, and will ensure improved minimum rates of pay for all those considering entering the Sector.

Minister O’Gorman said:

“I have always said that I believe early years educators and school-age childcare practitioners need their pay and conditions to reflect the importance of the work they do. Today’s announcement is an historic first step towards that.

“Since I became Minister with responsibility for early learning and childcare, I have been focused on reducing costs for parents, improving sustainability for providers and importantly improving quality for children.

“Yet low pay and conditions as well as limited opportunities for progression has made it difficult to attract and retain staff in the sector – and it is the staff who are key to the quality of children’s experiences.

“Through these first Employment Regulation Orders for the sector, I hope that early years educators and school-age childcare practitioners can now see a real future for themselves in a job that gives so much to children, their families and to society more broadly.

“I would like to acknowledge the independent nature of the Labour Court and Joint Labour Committee process and the hard work of its members in negotiating the pay and conditions for employees in the early learning and childcare sector.”

The Employment Regulation Orders apply to approximately 27,000 staff.

It is estimated that 73% of those working in the sector will see their wages rise as a result of the Employment Regulation Orders with the wages of 50% of employees in the sector expected to rise by 10% or more, and the wages of 20% of employees are expected to rise by 20% or more.