News & Media

Government failing families with no childcare plan as economy re-opens

8 June 2020

Statement by Senator Marie Sherlock
Seanad Whip and Spokesperson on Employment Affairs, Media, Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht
  • No worker must lose their job

  • Labour calls for joint WRC and Government guidance for workers

Responding to Minister Harris’s comments today that families will have to secure a “dig out” for getting childcare, Senator Marie Sherlock said that Government has once again shown that it has derisory understanding of the function of childcare for working parents and in particular working mothers, in the Irish labour market, and put forward two key objectives that must be secured.

Senator Sherlock said:

“For working families, childcare is the lifeblood of an inclusive labour market. The importance of childcare cannot be understated for ensuring high levels of maternal labour market participation, it means households can improve their household income by enabling a second earner to go out and work, and for lone parents, it is the passport to ensuring their economic independence.

"Yet families have to endure a perplexing mismatch of three weeks or more between when many workplaces are re-opening, and when formal childcare arrangements can resume. This decision endangers workers’ job security and will impose a strain on working relationships between managers and workers. This is bad for employees and bad for employers."

After weeks of getting it wrong on childcare, Senator Sherlock called on Government to now take two key actions:

"Firstly, Government must ensure no worker loses their job or their income because of being placed in this impossible situation. Government needs to work with the Workplace Relations Commission and jointly issue clear guidelines to employers and employees for employees who have difficulty returning to work because of childcare issues. This is vital to prevent any further deepening of inequality in our labour market. Already, we know that working mothers have had to shoulder a disproportionate burden of the childcare responsibilities during this public health crisis.

"Secondly, Government needs to provide the necessary supports to ensure that childcare facilities will re-open in adequate numbers on June 29th. Already there are multiple reports of childcare facilities closing with others not opening until September.

"Unemployment will be the single greatest challenge for our economy coming out of the pandemic. The livelihoods of those workers who have managed to hold onto their jobs must not be put in doubt."