Labour Court establishes new JLC for Early Years’ Service sector

Moira Grassick

June 29 2021

Minister Damien English TD has accepted the Labour Court’s recommendation to establish a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) for the Early Years’ Service sector.

This new JLC will come into effect on July 1st, 2021, and will fulfil a commitment in the Programme for Government to support the implementation of a JLC in the childcare sector.

What is a Joint Labour Committee?

A JLC consists of an equal number of employers’ and workers’ representatives in a particular sector.

The Committee meets under an independent chairman appointed by the Minister, an Industrial Relations Officer of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The Committee discusses and agrees on proposals for terms and conditions to apply to specified grades or categories of workers in the sector concerned.

The Industrial Relations Act 1946, as amended by the 2012 Industrial Relations Act, provides for a five-yearly review by the Labour Court of JLCs. Three JLCs currently meet periodically from the Contract Cleaning, Hairdressing, and Security sectors.

How will this affect the Early Years’ Service sector?

JLCs provide a wage-setting mechanism that determines terms and conditions of employment and sets minimum rates of pay for workers in certain sectors. In represented sectors, the terms and conditions may be brought into effect by means of an Employment Regulation Order (ERO) made by the Minister.

The Early Years’ Service JLC developed from collaboration with Childhood Services Ireland, SIPTU, and Minister Roderic O’Gorman TD. Mr O’Gorman initiated the process and appointed Dr Kevin Duffy, the former Chair of the Labour Court, as the independent chair of this process. Dr Duffy found that all parties involved agreed that the establishment of a JLC is the most appropriate way to address the pay and conditions of employment in the sector.

At present, it remains to be seen what recommendations the JLC will make. However, it’s possible that rates of pay in the childcare sector could increase. It’s hoped that better wages and working conditions will improve staff retention rates in the sector. Speaking on the establishment of the JLC, Mr O'Gorman said: "The government is committed to supporting this through the JLC process and through major projects underway in my department to develop a new funding model and a new workforce development plan for this sector."

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