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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 241-257
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits
 Header Item JobsPlus Scheme
 Header Item JobsPlus Scheme
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes
 Header Item Free Travel Scheme
 Header Item Disability Allowance
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item Maternity Leave
 Header Item Childcare Services
 Header Item Maternity Leave
 Header Item Child and Family Agency
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Joint Labour Committees

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 241-257

Social Welfare Benefits

 241. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if an application for basic supplementary welfare will be re-examined in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17809/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme is the safety net within the overall social welfare system in that it provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependents. Supports provided under the SWA scheme can consist of a basic weekly payment, a weekly or monthly supplement in respect of certain expenses, as well as single exceptional needs payments (ENPs) and urgent needs payments (UNPs).

  The basic supplementary welfare allowance provides immediate assistance for those in need who are awaiting the outcome of a claim or an appeal for a primary social welfare payment or do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. This assistance is subject to the person having the right to reside and satisfying the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC).

  Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, my Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. The ENP scheme is demand-led and payments are made at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme, taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. ENPs are not subject to the HRC.

  The person concerned made an application for SWA on 22/2/2021 and was paid an ENP pending a decision on this application.

  As stated above, in order to qualify for SWA, a person must, inter alia, satisfy the requirement to be habitually resident in the State. The person concerned failed to produce documentation requested by the Designated Officer, including any evidence of the right to reside in the State. As a result, a letter was issued on 18/3/2021 to inform the person concerned that the application was disallowed, and of the right to seek a review or appeal of this decision.

  It has since been confirmed that the person concerned does not hold a valid permission in the State, is the subject of a valid deportation order issued by the Minister for Justice, failed to present to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), and is now classed as an evader. The person concerned has apparently requested the revocation of the deportation order on ill health grounds but a decision has not been reached. If this is the case, the person concerned can apply to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) to be accommodated pending the outcome of his appeal application. This can be done by sending an email to ipasinbox@equality.gov.ie confirming Name, Date of Birth and ID number. The person will then be required to submit a declaration of means and his request will be assessed regarding his eligibility.

  My Department will consider whether a further ENP on a once off basis may be appropriate in the circumstances.

   I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobsPlus Scheme

 242. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if flexibility will be introduced in the eligibility criteria for the JobsPlus scheme to assist persons who have been out of work in getting back into employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17821/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys JobsPlus is a subsidy paid to employers who recruit long-term unemployed people for new positions in their workplace. Employers can avail of JobsPlus when filling new positions or positions that arise as a consequence of natural turnover and receive a subsidy of €7,500 or €10,000 per employee. The value of the grant is dependent on the age of the new employee and their duration of unemployment, over a two-year period of employment.

  JobsPlus is an effective scheme in responding to unemployment. An evaluation of the scheme, undertaken jointly by the EU Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Department of Social Protection published in 2020, found a positive impact equivalent to a 57% reduction in the likelihood of unemployment for people who benefited from JobsPlus.

  Dealing with Covid-19 presents a particular challenge to economic activity and, consequently, to employment levels. In last year’s July Jobs Stimulus, the capacity of JobsPlus was increased to 8,000 places. The qualification criteria for those under 30 years was amended, meaning they can now avail of the support after 4 months, having previously been 12 months. Time spent in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment can be counted for the purposes of eligibility for all unemployed individuals.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobsPlus Scheme

 243. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if an appeals process will be introduced for unsuccessful applicants for the JobsPlus scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17822/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys JobsPlus is a subsidy paid to employers who recruit long-term unemployed people for new positions in their workplace. Employers can avail of JobsPlus when filling new positions or positions that arise as a consequence of natural turnover and receive a subsidy of €7,500 or €10,000 per employee. The value of the grant is dependent on the age of the new employee and their duration of unemployment, over a two-year period of employment.

  With regards the right of appeal, the JobsPlus scheme is administrative (non-statutory) and therefore decisions on claims cannot be appealed to a Social Welfare Appeals Officer. However, if an applicant is dissatisfied with a decision not to award support, they may request a review of their application by a different Officer. It is open to applicants to supply any additional facts of information in support of their application.

  If there is a particular case that the Deputy has a concern about, my officials would be happy to review it.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes

 244. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if and the reason changes were made in 2019 to the operational rules of community employment supervisor pay scales; the reason community employment supervisors on a higher pay point who have their employment interrupted or contract ended are subsequently being rehired as supervisors on a lower pay point; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17831/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien The Community Employment Scheme (CE) is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The programme is delivered through independent CE sponsoring authorities that operate in the community and voluntary sector. They are responsible for persons recruited and employed by them.

My Department provides funding for CE schemes for training and material costs, in addition to CE participant and CE supervisor wages. CE sponsoring authorities receive this funding in line with their annual contract with my Department.

CE supervisors are employed by CE sponsoring authorities, they are not employees of the Department. As the employer, CE sponsoring authorities provide fixed-term contracts to both new and existing CE supervisors in line with their annual contractual agreement with the Department. It is important to note that each CE sponsoring authority is an independent employer in their own right.

In 2019 the definition of a new CE supervisor was clarified as being a person hired by a CE sponsoring authority who is not currently employed as a CE supervisor. All new CE supervisors commence on Point 1 of the appropriate payscale and move by annual increments on the anniversary of their commencement date thereafter, subject to satisfactory performance. The change to a CE supervisor’s salary referred to in the Deputy's question relates to a situation where a CE supervisor starts with a new employer. It does not relate to an interruption in their employment with their existing employer.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Free Travel Scheme

 245. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the entitlement to the free travel scheme at 66 years of age is dependent on a person being in receipt of the State pension; the reason this is a requirement given the scheme clearly states that it is an entitlement at 66 years of age; the reason a person must apply for the free travel scheme at 66 years of age when not in receipt of a State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17839/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Free Travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 990,000 customers with direct eligibility. The estimated expenditure on free travel in 2021 is €95 million.

  Everyone aged 66 and over will qualify for Free Travel, if s/he is legally resident and living permanently in the State (i.e. on an all-year-round basis).

  My Department is able to automatically issue a Free Travel Pass to those who are aged 66 or over and in receipt of a social welfare pension because it has the information required to process the pass.

  For a person aged 66 and over who does not fall into the category for the automatic issuing of a Free Travel Pass, it is necessary for them to complete an application form. This is to ensure that the Department has the correct and most up to date information for the applicant, thus ensuring that the Free Travel Pass is issued to the right person at the correct address and the applicant also receives the correct type of Travel pass i.e. Single Pass, Spouse/Partner/Civil or Companion pass.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Disability Allowance

 246. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if entitlement to the disability allowance will be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); if allowance will be made for the funds being set aside and managed by their parents for their future care; and if the matter will be expedited. [17844/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Social welfare legislation provides that, for social assistance schemes, all income and capital (such as savings, investments and property other than the family home) belonging to the claimant and his or her spouse/partner, where applicable, are assessable for means assessment purposes. Disability allowance (DA) is a statutory means-tested payment and the provisions governing the assessment of means are set out in legislation. When deciding on entitlement of DA, a deciding officer has no discretion regarding the application of this legislation.

  A review of this lady's disability allowance (DA) was carried out and it was established that the person concerned had means from capital. DA is a means tested scheme and the way means are assessed is laid down in social welfare legislation. The person concerned was notified of this decision on 15 November 2019.              

  The person concerned has been requested to furnish up to date details regarding their means and circumstances. On receipt of this information a review will be carried out and she will be notified of the outcome directly in writing.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Community Employment Schemes

 247. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys further to previous parliamentary questions, the reason for the delay in accommodating an association (details supplied) relative to its interest in being included in an existing community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17845/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Joe O'Brien): Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien Officials of my Department have written to representatives of the association concerned in January 2021, informing them of the next and required steps necessary to apply for additional places on an existing project, and confirming that the Department was available to support and advise on any matters relating to the successful outcome of an application.

The documentation required and details of the process to be followed in order to apply for additional places on Community Employment were sent to the sponsor organisation (St. Canice's) who were to recruit the additional participants in respect of the association concerned.

I confirm that, to date, no contact has been received from the organisation since January 2021.

My officials are available to engage with any or all of the parties involved regarding the matter of additional places. In order to progress this query, however, the active participation in the process of the association concerned is required. I would encourage them to make contact with my officials at their earliest convenience.

Departmental Data

 248. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in her Department by gender in tabular form. [17917/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The below tables provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in my Department by gender. These figures are as at the end of February and are full time equivalents. The figure for full time equivalents takes account of staff that avail of work-share options.

  Female Male
Assistant Secretary 4.00 7.00
Principal Officer 26.00 37.80
Medical Assessor 21.30 7.00
Assistant Principal 135.33 153.00
Higher Executive Officer 957.64 486.34
Administrative Officer 12.95 18.00
Grand Total 1157.22 709.14

Departmental Data

 249. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types her Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17979/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department shares data with the Department of Health, primarily for the purpose of assisting with the delivery of services to their customers. However, it is not possible to provide an inventory to cover all such data sharing over the extended period covered in the question, especially in view of the short time frame available.

  As an indication of the type of data sharing that is undertaken between the two Departments, we cite the following examples;

  - Means data is shared on a case by case basis to support the processing of medical card applications.

  - Client identity data is shared to facilitate the allocation of unique health identifier (IHI), and

  - data has been provided at times to support national health screening initiatives.

If the Deputy has a specific area of interest or concern, she is welcome to communicate directly with the Office of the Deputy Secretary at DSGoffice@welfare.ie    and every effort will be made to facilitate the request.

  i trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

General Data Protection Regulation

 250. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of complaints her Department has received from members of the public under the heading of GDPR and data information requests since 2018 to date in 2021; the number of data information requests that have been refused and accepted, respectively; the number of GDPR requests refused; and the basis on which they were declined in tabular form. [17998/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below:

  Total Reason for refusal
Complaints 52 N/A
Subject Access Requests* 1518  
Accepted 1510  
Refused 8 6 were refused under Article 15(4) GDPR – Third party data1 was refused under Article 12(5)(b) GDPR – unfounded or excessive1 was refused under Section 60(3)(a)(ii) and 60(3)(a)(iv) of the Data Protection Act 2018 – ongoing investigation
Right to Erasure 54  
Granted 7  
Part-granted 4 These requests were part-granted as some of the data could not be erased under Article 17(3) GDPR
Refused 27 These requests were refused under Article 17(3) GDPR.
Withdrawn 5  
Pending 5  
Referred 3  
Not verified 2  
No records exist 1  


  * Subject Access Requests from members of the public who are former members of the Department's staff are not included in these figures.

Maternity Leave

 251. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman his views on making maternity leave available for persons who have a miscarriage before the 24th week of pregnancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18034/21]

 252. Deputy Holly Cairns Information on Holly Cairns Zoom on Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman his views on providing parent’s leave to parents who have a miscarriage or stillbirth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18035/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.

I recognise that miscarriage and stillbirth are very tragic for parents. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994-2004 provide for up to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, and a further 16 weeks unpaid leave for women whose pregnancy has been confirmed by a doctor/medical practitioner after the 24th week of pregnancy. In the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage occurring after the 24th week of pregnancy, the mother is entitled to take her full maternity leave. Paternity leave is also available to the relevant parent in the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage occurring any time after the 24th week of pregnancy.

Childcare Services

 253. Deputy Neasa Hourigan Information on Neasa Hourigan Zoom on Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if his attention has been drawn to the lack of provision of childcare services for babies aged 6 to 12 months in the Dublin 1, 3, 7 and 9 areas, respectively that have developed since Pobal published its Early Years Sector Profile report in November 2019; his plans to conduct updated research into the capacity of existing childcare provision in the same areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17674/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman Supply of, and demand for, early learning and care and school-age childcare places is monitored annually through the Early Years Sector Profile report. This survey is conducted by Pobal on behalf of the Department.

  Published data from the 2018/2019 programme year indicates that existing childcare provision, in general, meets current needs nationwide in terms of capacity whilst recognising that small pockets of under supply may exist within this.

  Nationally, capacity and vacant places increased year on year from 2017/2018 (5%) to 2018/2019 (6%). A breakdown of data is available at a local authority level in Dublin, including Dublin City and Fingal. Dublin city had a vacancy rate of 4% in 2018/2019, no change from 4% in 2017/2018. Fingal had a vacancy rate of 5% in 2018/2019, up from 4% in 2017/2018. My Department continues to monitor this data closely.

  My Department also funds 30 City and County Childcare Committees across the country. Part of their role is to advise my Department on capacity issues.

  A key policy objective of my Department is to improve affordability, accessibility and quality of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School-Age Childcare (SAC). A 141% increase in investment over the last number of years has led to a doubling in the number of children receiving free or subsidised early learning and care and school-age childcare. It has also supported the sector to increase the number of places available.

  First 5, the ten-year whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families pledges to build on this progress. Among key strategic actions in First 5 is a commitment to 'maintain and extend the supply of high-quality publicly subsidised ELC and SAC to best serve the developmental needs of babies and young children, ensuring that it also reflects the needs and preferences of parents and families'.

  To deliver on this strategic action, a range of actions are under way, including an update of the National Planning Guidelines for the development of early learning and care and school-age childcare settings, the extension of regulation to all paid, non-relative childminders on a phased basis and the development of a strategic capital investment plan to deliver large-scale capital investment under Project 2040. The development of a new funding model for EELC and SAC also seeks to address issues of accessibility. First 5 also commits to strengthen capacity to accurately forecast supply and demand for early learning and care and school-age childcare.

  Owing to COVID-19, the publication of Pobal’s Annual Early Years Sector Profile 2019/2020 has been delayed. It is expected that the report will be published in mid 2021.

  Planning for the 2020/2021 survey administration is underway, and these data will continue to provide a key input into the Department’s work in this area.

Maternity Leave

 254. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the status of efforts to provide access to paid maternity leave for parents of children born via surrogacy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17727/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman Policy on surrogacy rests with the Minister for Health while policy on parentage rests with the Minister for Justice. Legislation on family leaves must be developed in the context of the legal situation concerning parentage, including in relation to surrogacy. Any changes in the legal situation with regard to parentage and surrogacy are matters for the Minister for Justice and Minister for Health.

  Some forms of family leaves may be available to commissioning surrogate parents. These include parental leave and parent's leave and benefit.

Child and Family Agency

 255. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the number of habeas corpus applications made in circumstances in which Tusla was a respondent in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17757/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Deputy is referring to an operational matter for Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. I have therefore referred the matter to Tusla, and asked that a direct response be provided to the Deputy.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 256. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if he will provide the details and copies of all correspondence between him and his Department and the Commission of Investigation on Mother and Baby Homes in relation to the Sixth interim report of the Commission both in advance of the receipt of that report on 14 February 2020 and subsequent to its receipt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17776/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes submitted a Sixth Interim Report to the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on 2 January 2020. The Sixth Interim Report was published in full on 12 January 2021 in line with the commitment I gave to publish this Report in tandem with the Commission's Final Report. I have requested my Department to provide the Deputy with copies of the correspondence between my Department and the Commission in relation to this Report.

In its Sixth Interim Report, the Commission provided a brief update on its work for the purposes of grounding a request for revision of the timeframe of the final report. Although it was a short report it nonetheless raised complex issues related to the completion of the Commission’s programme of work. Notably, the Commission proposed a revised reporting arrangement to facilitate a phased completion of its report. On the basis of legal advices available to the then Minister, the Government agreed to a limited extension until 26 June 2020 in order to allow the Commission to complete all its work and submit a final report.

The Report identified challenges relating to the redaction, transfer and potential for future use of the Commission's records in the context of its obligations under the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004. The Sixth Interim Report was not immediately published to facilitate further deliberation and engagement with the Commission in relation to these important matters. As the Deputy will be aware, I subsequently brought forward the Commission of Investigation (Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters) Records, and another Matter, Bill 2020 to resolve these matters. This bespoke legislation was enacted in October 2020 to protect all the Commission's records and ensure legal clarity on their transfer and future use.

The Sixth Interim Report also enclosed a detailed technical archaeological report relating to burials at Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary. At the time, the then Minister was advised by the Office of the Attorney General that this technical report had to be returned as it constituted evidence to the Commission. This was done and all copies of the technical report were destroyed by the Department. The technical report was included in the Commission's final report.

Joint Labour Committees

 257. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the position regarding the establishment of a joint labour committee in relation to the childcare sector and the development of an employment regulation order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17803/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Programme for Government commits to supporting the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the early learning and care and school-age childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order. In December 2020, I began a short process to examine the possibility of regulating the pay and conditions of employment of practitioners in early learning and care and school-age childcare, and to examine the suitability of establishing a JLC. In agreement with IBEC/CSI and SIPTU, I appointed Dr Kevin Duffy, former Chair of the Labour Court, to be the independent chair of this process.

Following a series of meetings that concluded in early February, Dr Duffy has now submitted his report on the process. The report concludes that all parties agreed that the establishment of a JLC is the most appropriate means by which pay and conditions of employment in the sector can be addressed.

On foot of this, I have written to the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail, recommending the establishment of a JLC for the sector. If established, a JLC would provide an opportunity for relevant parties to engage in negotiations on an Employment Regulation Order which could ultimately establish binding rates of pay and conditions for the sector.

Under the Industrial Relations Act 1946, the Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail has the power to apply to the Labour Court for the establishment of a JLC, and it is the statutory role of the Labour Court to determine the appropriateness of establishing a JLC in a given sector.


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