The Government must immediately commit to refund the additional childcare costs that essential health workers have incurred since schools and crèches closed on 12th March, according to Fórsa.
The union’s statement followed Wednesday’s (13th May) announcement that the Government had cancelled plans to provide childcare for essential health workers.
This came less than a week after the scheme was belatedly unveiled, and leaves staff struggling to balance responsibilities to their children and the public.
A Fórsa spokesperson said: “It’s now nine weeks since schools and crèches were closed. At that time, the Government promised it would help essential health workers, thousands of whom have since incurred massive additional childcare costs in order to continue serving the public.
“The only practical solution now – to do right by staff and maximise the numbers available in our hospitals and community health settings – is for the Government to agree to meet the additional costs that essential health workers have incurred.”
Prior to the announcement, Fórsa was seeking full details of the proposed scheme, which had been unveiled by children’s minister Katherine Zappone last week.
In particular, the union had queried what measures would be put in place if too few childcare providers stepped up for the voluntary scheme. The shortage of volunteers was subsequently cited as the reason for the scheme’s failure.
As things stand, limited measures to ease childcare problems remain in place.
Under the Government’s ‘roadmap for reopening society and the economy,’ a phased reopening of crèches, childminding and pre-school facilities for essential workers is set to begin on 29th June. But observers are questioning whether this will be sufficient.