The Education Minister must reconsider the Government’s industrial law changes which threaten to disrupt early childhood education services and may put children at risk, National’s spokesperson for Early Childhood Education Nicola Willis says.

“The Government’s proposed employment law changes are causing concern for many early childhood education (ECE) providers who say the changes are impractical and unreasonable and may compromise the care provided to children.

“The proposed changes would give Union representatives the right to walk into childcare services without warning or background checks. This is simply not acceptable.

“In addition to the significant disruption this would pose to parents and teachers, it seems to conflict with the intent of the Vulnerable Children’s Act which requires educators to undergo safety checks before working in an ECE service. 

“The Early Childhood Council and others have raised concerns about new provisions allowing the Employment Relations Authority to require workers to be reinstated after an unjustified dismissal.

“Children’s safety must be paramount.  While all centres should follow appropriate dismissal process, and provide remedies where they fall short, they must have the right to say no to a worker returning to work if they believe it will put children’s wellbeing at risk.

“In addition to these serious concerns for child safety, the proposed employment law changes ignore the practical realities of childcare services. 

“How, for example, are childcare services meant to implement prescribed timing for meal and rest breaks without compromising adult to child ratios or their ability to serve children’s needs?

“These concerns have been raised in a submission by the Early Childhood Council and in a letter from nine early childhood education services received by my office. 

“Minister Hipkins must not put children’s wellbeing at risk as he rushes to make employment law changes.”

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