Pay for residential childcare workers is to increase by up to 44.8%, it has been announced by the Minister of State for Children, Mary Hanafin. The increases which were negotiated by IMPACT are the highest so far under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. To tackle what has often been described as a 'crisis' in childcare services and attract more people into the sector, hefty new pay increases for childcare workers, worth between roughly 30% and almost 45% have been agreed by the Government and the trade union Impact. The pay rises which, will be worth on average of £3,500, are also designed to motivate current staff to get proper childcare qualifications.

The increases form part of a package which will see a fundamental review of training available. Two new grades of childcare worker and childcare leader have been created. In order to avail of the higher pay increase, worth roughly £8,300 pounds, and become a childcare leader, health board staff will have to have a recognised third level qualification. Currently only half of the roughly 1,300 staff employed in childcare services are fully qualified. The increases will not only reward staff who are already qualified but will provide strong incentives for those still unqualified to improve their knowledge and skills.

While it is hoped the new increases will specifically boost the childcare services, for other public service unions they will highlight the potential of the partnership process to secure big pay rises at a time when members of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland, are balloting on whether to embrace benchmarking or continue pursuing a 30% pay rise outside of it.