News & Events

’Historic’ new pay agreement to provide pay increases and wage structure for early learning and childcare workers – Ministers English and O’Gorman

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 TD, 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 Government’s €221 million Core Funding Scheme, announced by Roderic O’Gorman TD, 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 15 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.

Notes for editor:

The Programme for Government commits to “support the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee in the childcare sector and the drawing up of an Employment Regulation Order, which would determine minimum rates of pay for childcare workers, as well as terms and conditions of employment”.

In December 2020, Minister O’Gorman began a short process to examine the possibility of regulating the pay and conditions of employment of educators and practitioners in early learning and childcare, and to examine the suitability of establishing a Joint Labour Committee.

Arising from that process Minister O’Gorman wrote to the Minister for of State for Business, Employment and Retail, Damien English, in March 2021 recommending the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee for the sector.

In Budget 2022, Minister O’Gorman secured significant investment through Core Funding with a number of objectives including to support the agreement of minimum pay rates and terms and conditions for the sector through the Joint Labour Committee structure and Employment Regulation Order process. €138 million has been included in Core Funding to improve rates of pay across all roles in the sector including graduate staff and this will also support the establishment of career structures into the future. A further €38 million is included in Core Funding as a graduate premium in respect of graduate Lead Educators and Managers.