Pay Scales & Valuing the Early Years Sector

SIPTU Big Start
3 min readNov 12, 2018


Early Years professionals are underpaid.

A lack of government investment has led to low wages and a staffing crisis, both of which are undermining quality.

A new report shows just how far behind we are; but we have a plan to change things.

Recommended Pay Scales

Last week, pay scales developed by international consultancy firm Mercer were released by National Childhood Network and Crann Support Group.

These recommended pay scales are a guide that reflect the qualifications, experience and responsibilities of Early Years professionals.

Mercer Recommended Pay Scales

Providers & Pay

The Mercer pay scales are considerably above the current average wage rates and well above what providers can afford to pay.

Let’s be clear; providers cannot pay what they don’t have.

Only government can make the investment needed to implement decent pay scales.

The question is, how do educators, managers and providers work together for increased funding and move towards pay scales for everyone?

The Plan for Pay

Government knows that pay needs to increase, but they need an assurance that increased funding will go towards pay. That’s why Mercer have recommended establishing a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO).

An SEO is a legal mechanism that can set minimum hourly rates of pay for managers, room leaders and educators; provided there is adequate funding.

Minister Katherine Zappone has repeatedly stated her support for an SEO and for educators to join a union. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has also stated that funding for pay cannot increase without an SEO.

So how we we get an SEO?

Once 1/3 of Early Years staff join SIPTU we can establish an SEO. The good news is that we are almost halfway there.

By joining SIPTU and encouraging others to do so, we can win decent pay scales. By campaigning together the can win the government funding so providers can afford it.

It will take a number of pay agreements (SEOs) to reach the Mercer pay scales; and each agreement will depend on how much the Government increases funding, but we now have the plan and ability to professionalise pay.

If you want to join SIPTU or find out more, please contact 01 858 6365 or

We will also be having a Facebook live event later this week and we invite any questions that you may have.