News & Events

New pay agreement to provide pay increases for the early learning and childcare workforce – Ministers Higgins and O’Gorman

Emer Higgins TD, Minister of State for Business, Employment and Retail has accepted proposals for new Employment Regulation Orders for the Early Years Services Sector. The Orders will commence on 24 June 2024 and will increase the minimum hourly rates of pay for various roles in the early years services sector.

The Employment Regulation Orders apply to approximately 33,000 educators and it is estimated that 53% of those working in the sector will see their wages rise as a result of the new Employment Regulation Orders.

Minister Higgins said:

“I am very pleased to approve these Employment Regulation Orders which will improve the hourly pay rates of approximately 33,000 educators in the early learning and childcare sector. Those working in the early learning and childcare sector provide an outstanding service to infants and children while offering invaluable support to growing families.

“The first Employment Regulation Orders for the sector was introduced in 2022 and has been very successful in providing stability, better staff retention rates, and improved pay and conditions for this workforce. 

“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”.

Roderic O’Gorman TD, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has welcomed Minister Higgins' acceptance of the Early Years Services Employment Regulation Orders as they will deliver improved pay and conditions, will support career pathways, and will help to support the recruitment and retention of early years educators and school-age childcare practitioners.

Minister O’Gorman said:

“Since becoming Minister, I have prioritised improving the pay and conditions of those working with children as I believe early years educators’ and school-age childcare practitioners’ pay and conditions should reflect the importance of the work they do.”

“Improvement in pay and conditions is essential if we are to recognise the important work that is done every day by those who work in this sector. It is also essential if we are to improve recruitment and retention and raise the profile of careers in the sector. And it is essential if we are to support the ongoing professionalisation of the sector.

“While I very much welcome this, I recognise that pay in the sector still remains relatively low, however I remain committed to supporting further improvements in pay and conditions and aim to do this through Core Funding which, this year alone will increase by 15% to €331 million on last years allocation.

“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 and I look forward to seeing further positive negotiations from this process in the future.”

Notes for editor

These Employment Regulation Orders amend the 2022 Employment Regulation Orders for the sector which commenced on 15 September 2022 (SI No 458 of 2022 Employment Regulation Order (Early Years’ Service Joint Labour Committee) Order No 2 2022).

These amended Employment Regulation Orders increase the minimum hourly rates applicable from 24 June 2024 as follows:

  • Early Years Educators and School Age Childcare (SAC) Practitioners €13.00 to €13.65
  • Lead Educators (Room Leaders) and School Age Childcare (SAC) Coordinators €14.00 to €14.70
  • Graduate Lead Educators (Room Leaders) and Graduate School Age Childcare (SAC) Coordinators €15.50 to €16.28
  • Deputy/Assistant Manager €15.70 to €16.49
  • Centre Manager €16.50 to € 17.33
  • Graduate Centre Manager €17.25 to €18.11

The removal of the requirement for graduates to have three years experience before they are eligible for Graduate Lead Educator and Graduate Manager rates of pay from the Employment Regulation Orders will fulfil commitments made by the Minister O’Gorman in 2022 to widen access to the graduate premium under Core Funding.  Services participating in Core Funding will be able to claim the graduate premium for all Graduate Lead Educators and Mangers with degrees regardless of their experience. 

One of the key objectives of Core Funding is to support the sector as a whole with the introduction of direct supply-side funding, in addition to the ECCE programme and the National Childcare Scheme, to create a more stable and sustainable financial environment.

Core Funding in Year 1 – with an overall allocation of €259 million contributed to services’ sustainability and significantly increased income for the overwhelming majority of services while providing greater funding stability. For Year 2 of Core Funding, the budget increased by 11% to reach €287 million, providing a sustainable platform for investment with increases for all services.

€331 million is being allocated for year 3 of Core Funding, an increase of €44 million, or 15%. This will support the delivery of a range of enhancements in Year 3 of the scheme to support improved affordability and accessibility for families, improved pay and conditions for the workforce and improved sustainability for providers.