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Rostering of Staff: This Week’s Thursday Tip

Rostering of Staff is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne. This is an area frequently identified as a non-compliance during the inspection process.

The staff roster is vitally important to the general day to day running of the childcare environment, it is the brain of the service – the first line of defence in ensuring your service is prepared for the week ahead.

Today’s tips outline what the functions of a Staff Roster is, the common non compliances and tips on how to ensure all of the correct information is available on the time sheets. 


Staff Rostering: The Functions

  • To act as a live representation of what is happening in the service on any given day.
  • To meet ratio balance in the service, ensuring that the correct adult: child ratio is maintained throughout the day, every day.
  • Ensuring that annual leave is accounted for.
  • Ensuring that there is an alternative person in place in lieu of a person on sick leave/annual leave.
  • Representing all staff members contractual working hours, and ensuring their allocation.
  • Representing staff absence, be that through sick leave, annual leave, parental leave, or so on.
  • Representing repeated lateness or absenteeism, when updated in real time daily.

Common Non-Compliances During Inspection

  • The roster is not adequately developed, is handwritten or scribbled out, which leads to an illegible roster that is confusing for staff, looks wholly unprofessional and omits important information.
  • Staff members are not appropriately assigned to care rooms. This could create a ratio imbalance in the service, leading to serious non-compliance throughout the day.
  • Staff roles and responsibilities in the care rooms are not assigned through the roster. Lead Educators, Educators and Aim support workers should be clearly identifiable through the roster – to all members of the team for clarity regarding the roles and the responsibilities of their teammates. This should also be clear to inspectors from Tusla, DES and Pobal who require this information during the inspection process. Funding can be affected due to inaccuracies, such as the wrong person being assigned to a role, or AIM support being paid but no member of staff is in place. 
  • Staff roles are not assigned. For example, DPIC (Deputy Person in Charge), PIC (Person in Charge) , DLP (Designated Liaison Person – Child Protection) DDLP (Deputy Designated Liaison Person) , FAR (First Aid Responder), Fire Officer, LINC coordinator, and so on. Staff could therefore find it difficult to identify the persons responsible for these roles. In the case that a Child Protection concern was to come to light, uncertainty around who is responsible for disclosures could lead to the information not being passed to the appropriate person promptly, or misinformation being passed. In the event that a First Aid Responder was required in an emergency situation, confusion over who was responsible for this, or who to call upon becomes a serious high-risk situation.
  •  The Manager is not included on the roster. The manager’s hours not being accounted for on the roster leads to uncertainty as to who oversees the service, who is responsible to open and close the service, whether there is someone available to deal with a parental concern at any given time. This could lead to unnoticed gaps that need to be filled by the deputy person in charge. 
  • Live updates are not noted on the roster. For example, a staff member is sick, has an appointment, or so on. Should information on the whereabouts of specific staff members be required during an investigation, inaccurate rostering could create unnecessary confusion for the investigating officer. Notwithstanding this, in the event that the whole service required evacuation, the roster could prove an integral piece of information for the emergency services. 
  • Cover staff/relief staff are not identified throughout the roster. It is vital when updating the staff roster, that any cover or relief staff are identified on the roster with their care room assigned to them. Cover staff must have their hours of work clearly identified, not only for inspection purposes, but again as above, from a health and safety point of view, should a full evacuation of the service be required. Similarly for administrative purposes, during the calculation of staff hours and so on.
  • Students on work experience are not identified on the roster. Any persons with regular access to the children, whether included in the ratio or not, should be included on the roster to reflect the accurate number of adults in the service at any given time. This will also assist the service and the student themselves when calculating the work experience hours.
  •  The exact times of breaks are not assigned. All breaks (out and back in) should be listed for all staff counted in ratio.   The person assigned to cover this break period should also be listed to appear on the roster.  It is important that any changes made to the rostered breaks should also be updated on the live roster.
Note the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, stipulates the following requirement regarding rest breaks: 15 minute unpaid break where an employee has worked for 4.5 hours and a 30 minute unpaid break where the employee has worked more than 6 hours.
 
There is not an entitlement to both and the 30 minute break can include the 15 minute break.  These breaks are not considered working time and there is no entitlement to be paid. However, some services may pay for rest breaks. The more information available to an inspector on the roster, the easier it will be for them to review compliance. Lunch-time and emergency cover (such as for staff toilet breaks, nappy change cover) needs to be clearly visible and available for an inspector to view.
 
What is input on paper should be what is in practice (actually happening) inside the rooms. Canavan Byrne provide an excellent resource pack, including a roster template, which is an essential tool to ensure your roster template is compliant, accurate and easy to maintain. The pack is available here to purchase.

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Statutory Sick Pay FAQ’s: This Week’s Thursday Tip

Statutory Sick Pay FAQ’s is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne. The new Sick Leave Act is in place since the 1st January 2023.

It is important services understand the requirements under employment law to ensure compliance. Furthermore, to avoid any issues in relation to sick leave in the future.

We have answered the most frequently asked questions to help you understand what the Act is, what statutory sick pay etc. so that you can answer any queries staff members may have with confidence. 

What is the Sick Leave Act?

The Sick Leave Act was signed into law in July 2022 and is effective from the 1st of January 2023. The Act legislates for a statutory sick pay scheme for all Employees in Ireland, phased in over a four-year period.

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Up until now employees in Ireland had no legal right to be paid sick leave. This changed in July 2022, when the Sick Leave Act 2022 became law. The entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay starts from 1 January 2023. The new legislation will mean that Employers must provide a minimum number of paid sick days every year.

How does an Employee become entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?

For an employee to be entitled to paid sick leave under the legislation, an Employee must be working for the Employer for at least 13 continuous weeks. An Employee will also need to be certified by a GP as unfit to work. Where an employee’s employment terminates and that same employee returns to the same employer within 26 weeks after the date of cessation, the initial period of employment can be considered as continuous service for the purpose of gaining an entitlement to statutory sick pay.


What is the Statutory Sick Pay Entitlement?

The entitlement to sick leave will be phased in over 4 years. Eligible Employees are entitled to paid sick leave for up to 3 days per year in year 1 – 2023. This is planned to increase to 5 days in year 2, 7 days in year 3 and 10 days in year 4.

Are these statutory sick days certified or uncertified?

An employee seeking to rely on the Act must provide their employer with a certificate from a registered medical practitioner outlining that the employee is unfit to work due to injury or illness. Once the entitlement to statutory sick leave from the employer ends, the employee may qualify for illness benefit.

What is the employee paid when on sick leave? What are the sick leave rates?

Employers are obliged to pay 70% of an Employee’s gross normal earnings (up to a maximum of €110 per day). For employees who don’t have regular hours or hours vary, normal earnings will be calculated over the four-week period immediately prior to the sick leave or, if no time was worked in that four weeks, the four weeks ending on the day on which time was last worked.

What is the entitlement for an employee who commences employment mid-way through a year.

Employees who commence employment mid-year are still entitled to the full statutory sick leave once they have accrued the minimum level of service of 13 continuous weeks. This is regardless of whether they have already been the beneficiary of statutory sick pay from a previous Employer.


Is the sick leave allowance for each time the employee is absent due to illness?

No. the entitlement is for the number of statutory sick days throughout the calendar year.  Statutory sick leave days may be consecutive days or non-consecutive days. For example, in 2023 the entitlement is for 3 days throughout the full year.

Does this statutory sick leave entitlement apply to fixed term contracts/ term time or temporary contracts?

Yes, all employees are entitled to benefit from the full statutory sick leave after accrual of 13 weeks service. Under the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003, Employers cannot treat a fixed-term worker less favourably than a comparable permanent Employee, unless the reasons can be objectively justified.

What happens when the statutory sick leave is used fully?

Employees who exhaust the sick leave allowance may qualify for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection, subject to PRSI contributions.

What happens if my employee is in probation? 

Probation has no impact on the entitlement. However, employees must have completed 13 weeks continuous service before the Act applies.


As an employer do I need to keep a record of the sick leave taken?

Employers are obliged to keep records of Statutory Sick Leave (including the dates and times of leave, rate of payment and the amount of service of the applicable Employee) for a period of four years. Failure to comply with the record-keeping requirement may result in a fine of up to €2,500.


What happens if an employer does not comply with the Sick Leave Act?

If an employer does not comply employees have the right to take a complaint to the WRC if they are not provided with a compliant Company sick pay scheme. The penalty for non-compliance is up to four weeks’ full pay on top of your unpaid sick pay. The Act also provides protection against penalisation for any Employee exercising their right to avail of Statutory Sick Pay.


What happens if an employee’s contractual sick leave that exceeds of the statutory scheme?

If the employer has a contractual sick pay scheme in place that exceeds the entitlements of the Act i.e., allows Employees to take more than 3 days paid sick leave per year, there is no need to change the sick leave scheme. Employees must retain their contractual allowance.

I cannot afford to pay this entitlement. Do I have to?

If an employer is experiencing severe financial difficulties, they may apply to the Labour Court for an exemption.

If you require any templates to bring your service up to date then you can check out our different products on the Early Years Shop. This includes the Sick Pay Addendum to Contract, Sick Leave Policy and the Sick Management Pack. All packs were developed by Canavan Byrne and come in downloadable format for instant use. Simply order, download and edit to suit your own service requirements.

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Strep A Signs & Symptoms: Thursday Tip

Strep A Signs and Symptoms is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne. With the holidays upon us and a rise in cases of Strep A in children over the last number of weeks it is important to highlight the signs and symptoms for parents and families.

Reading news articles and watching videos online may make parents anxious. Therefore, it is important they receive information from reputable sources. At Canavan Byrne we have put together a short video clip that you can share with families of your early years service.

This video outlines the common signs and symptoms for Strep A, how to treat it at home and when to contact a doctor. We have also outlined further details on Strep A below.  You can share this information with parents and families in your service. 

Strep A Signs & Symptoms  – What Is Strep A? 

Strep A (Group A streptococcus) is a common bacteria that is sometimes found in the throat or on the skin. Normally it causes mild illness like sore throats and skin infections. In rare cases, these bacteria can cause a severe and life threatening illness called invasive Group A Streptococcal disease (iGAS). Strep A is usually treated with antibiotics.

Strep A can cause infections on skin, soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments), and respiratory system (nose, throat and lungs). Possible infections include tonsillitis, pharyngitis, scarlet fever, impetigo and cellulitis. It is rare that it will result in a serious illness.

Strep A – How Does A Child Get It?

Strep A can be passed on through coughs and sneezes, or from a wound. Some people may have the bacteria in their body without feeling unwell or showing any symptoms of infections. It is possible to pass it on even if you are showing no symptoms. However, the risk of spread is much greater when a person is unwell.

The Signs & Symptoms of Strep A

The symptoms of Strep A include;

  • Sore Throat
  • High Temperature (38 Celsius or Higher)
  • Chills
  • Muscle Ache

Treating Strep A Symptoms

Normally you can treat a child’s symptoms at home and you can seek advice from a local pharmacist on medicines. Be sure to follow the correct dosage instructions on the bottle or packet. Trust your instincts. Bring your child to your GP if you are worried about them. For more information please visit www.hse.ie.

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Christmas Party Ideas: This Week’s Thursday Tip

Christmas Party Ideas is this week’s Thursday Tip from Canavan Byrne and includes some great ideas that you might like to use for your celebrations this year. We have five top tips for you to consider when organising your children’s Christmas party this December!

Tip One – Decorate your service with the help of all the children. Remember to use items you already have that can be recycled and upcycled. Allow the children to make decorations and art work that can be used through out the service. Not only will this keep costs down but the children will be proud they took part and that they contributed to the service looking so magical! This is a great way to encourage team work from a young age. 

Tip Two – Organise a Christmas dinner with the children? Parents could pack Turkey, chicken or ham for lunch and you could organise some quick and easy veggies. This will surely be the best healthy but memorable Christmas dinner and a great practice for the real event when they are home. Sometimes the pickiest children copy each other, and you never know may even try some broccoli or brussels sprouts.

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