Childcare costs ‘the elephant in the room’ – Funchion
Speaking today against Fianna Fáil's Au Pair Placement Bill 2016, Sinn Féin's Spokesperson on Childcare, Kathleen Funchion said that 'elephant in the room' and main reason for the rise in use of au pairs across the state was the huge cost of childcare for families.
The Kilkenny TD said:
“Although the Bill acknowledges the need for regulation of the au pair sector, we in Sinn Féin cannot support it as it does not go far enough in protecting the rights of workers in the sector. The elephant in the room, however, is the cost of childcare. The root cause for the huge increase in the employment of au pairs is the astronomical cost of childcare.
“Ireland’s childcare costs are considered the most expensive in the EU and are second to only to the USA worldwide ranging at the high end between €800-1000 a month dependant on location.
“The lack of affordable, accessible and quality childcare remains one of the biggest crises across this state. Parents, workers, childcare services and children continue to suffer as a result. We believe that childcare should be regarded as a public service for both children and parents.
“The growth of the au pair sector is due the lack of affordable, accessible and quality childcare for so many families across the state. And so, many families are looking towards this sector to fill this gap.
“Responsibility for the protection of these workers – lies with this government. There is also an onus on the au pair industry recruitment agencies to be aware of and comply with the Employment Agencies Act 1971.
“Trends indicate a growing number of migrant women working in childcare unregulated, in other words, an informal workforce providing care in private homes. The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland has also identified an increase in the pattern of exploitation experienced by au pairs.
“We support the call by the Migrant Rights Centre for an immediate and coordinated response by Government and the National Employment Rights Authority to ensure that the employment rights of au pair workers are upheld and enforced, with particular emphasis on recruitment agencies and direct employers.”