Childcare for frontline healthcare workers must be provided in some form as schools remain closed for longer, the INMO has said.
The union called on government to reinstate a policy allowing frontline staff to work from home, or be treated as such, if they have children who need to be taken care of.
Such a policy was introduced in the public sector previously but has since been withdrawn when schools reopened.
Over 90% of nurses and midwives are women, meaning childcare issues are in practice a major concern.
To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, the union is also calling for previous measures to be rolled out:
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“The government have to learn from the mistakes of the past. Failure to deal with the childcare issue for healthcare workers was a major problem when we first faced the virus.
“Our members with children have a worrying sense of déjà vu that they will once again be forgotten in government plans.
“The lack of childcare support put nurses and midwives in an impossible position, forcing many to use up leave or simply stay away from work. We can and must do better this time round.
“The government need to provide rapid certainty to frontline staff that they can work from home should they need to care for children who would normally be in school.
“We have seen trolley figures shoot up this week, so the government also need to bring in extra capacity from the private sector, and scale back electives to ensure that our hospitals are not overwhelmed.”