Fórsa has warned that proposed changes to working arrangements for civil and public servants with caring responsibilities could lead to serious difficulties on the ground at the end of next month.
New guidance to public service employers, from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER), suggests that flexibilities for working parents whose childcare provision disappeared during the coronavirus crisis could be withdrawn from 24th August.
This is based on an expectation that schools will re-open at the end of August – which is likely to happen – and that creches and childcare facilities will also be operating again.
But Fórsa has told DPER that many – if not most – crèches and pre-school facilities may remain shut. The sector’s representative body says that, while two-thirds of childcare providers applied for State support to reopen their doors, only a quarter have so far reopened.
Some 3,300 out of around 4,500 facilities remain closed, and it is not known how many of these will be open at the end of August.
Until now, the DPER has advised employers to facilitate home working for working parents whose childcare arrangements have fallen through on foot of school and crèche closures introduced by the Government in mid-March.
The department has also been advising employers to consider offering flexible working arrangements – including home working – to staff with other caring responsibilities on a case-by-case basis.
But this advice looks set to expire on 24th August.
A union spokesperson said that Fórsa would be monitoring the situation closely, and stood ready to represent members who find themselves in difficulties.
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