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'Key worker' definition to be expanded for childcare

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Overnight stays for the purposes of childcare are allowed under some circumstances (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Overnight stays for the purposes of childcare are allowed under some circumstances (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

PA

Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Overnight stays for the purposes of childcare are allowed under some circumstances (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The definition of key worker is to be expanded to allow more people to take advantage of childcare, Stormont ministers have said.

Health Minister Robin Swann and Education Minister Peter Weir yesterday unveiled details of plans to extend childcare across Northern Ireland.

Education Minister Peter Weir said that from Monday "we will be extending access to childcare provision to all of the key workers who are currently able to access school places".

"As demand for childcare grows, we are determined to ensure that measures are in place to support all our people who are working tirelessly at the frontline of this current crisis. Today's announcement will enable a greater number of key workers who are parents to access childcare if they need it to be able to go to work," he said.

Mr Swann added: "This will enable a greater number of key workers who are parents to access childcare if they need it to be able to go to work."

It comes after the Law Centre NI said parents who can't get childcare are being threatened with disciplinary action. It said several workers reached out after their bosses told them it would be considered an absence without leave if they didn't show up.

Law Centre NI solicitor Clare Coulter said: "Generally their employers come to them and say we want to open up next week. They've tried to find childcare options, found out there's none - and the employer says you still have to return to work.

"Say it's a single parent, stuck with three young kids and then being asked to return to work is a very difficult position to be in and a lot of them have to then ask for dependence leave or unpaid leave. But most options are unpaid so that puts them in extreme financial difficulty."

Belfast Telegraph