Irish Medical Organisation

Healthcare Workers with Childcare Responsibilities

We refer to our member e-mail regarding the above from 7th January. A number of members have followed up seeking clarification in this matter. After further engagement between health service management and unions (including the IMO), the HSE has issued HR Circular 2/2021 which sets out the policy on leave for frontline healthcare workers with childcare responsibilities during this phase of the pandemic.

You can view a copy of the Circular here.

There are several points from the Circular that are worth noting:

Firstly, in some instances, and in line with Government advice and decisions, some frontline healthcare workers will continue to be able to avail of existing childcare arrangements, or establish a ‘bubble’ with another household to facilitate childcare.

Secondly, where this is  not possible, employers are asked to consider alternative rostering arrangements and flexibilities to enable the frontline healthcare worker to continue to be present in the workplace, while also ensuring that childcare needs are met, to the greatest extent possible.  A range of options to be considered are set out in the Circular.

Thirdly, where alternatives have been considered but not deemed to be suitable, the healthcare worker should be facilitated to work from home including, where necessary, undertaking different duties. If a decision is made that the healthcare worker can work from home, that person is considered to be ‘available for duty’ and should be paid including while awaiting duties to be assigned.

At this time, requests for regular forms of leave can also be made, but healthcare workers making such requests should be mindful of the pressures on the service.

If you have any questions in this regard, please contact the IMO on (01) 6767273, or by e-mail at

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