ECE centres left to pick up the tab for sick leave policy

24 September 2020

The Labour Party’s policy of doubling sick leave entitlements will hit many early learning centres hard as the gap between expenses and subsidies grow.

The 100% increase from five days to ten for sick leave entitlements for all workers could cost the average centre, licenced for 53 children and 17 staff, up to $18,000 per year.

“Staying home when you’re unwell is key to beating this virus, and all teachers and staff should be able to take sick leave when required. But once again, it’s community and privately owned centres picking up the tab for government policy,” said Early Childhood Education CEO Peter Reynolds.

“It’s like having dinner with a friend who orders everything on the menu but leaves before the bill arrives.”

“It’s yet another example of Labour throwing our money away, not their own. Without additional funding support for these subsidised services, many more centres will be pushed to the wall. I struggle to think of any other private business that is subsidised, not fully funded, by the government that’s told how it can spend its money, and then further disadvantaged as the government increases its costs without increasing the subsidies.”

Most early learning providers stopped charging parent fees during COVID-19 lockdowns, and face severe financial challenges due to parents keeping children home for health or economic reasons.

Initiatives like the education Urgent Response Fund are designed to help, but ECC members report it’s proving challenging to access.

“We urge the politicians to run their numbers again, to fully understand what providers are facing and take remedial action,” said Mr Reynolds.

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