Childcare alternatives must be in place for frontline healthcare workers during school closures, the INMO has said.
Previous closures saw healthcare workers with children forced to take annual leave, pay for expensive individual care, or simply not attend work.
The INMO warned against repeating the “mistakes of the past”, saying that the health service needed “all hands on deck” during this wave.
The union pointed to a policy in the UK where schools and childcare facilities opened for frontline health and social care workers only.
The INMO are seeking some provision for primary and secondary school children to be cared for if needed, along with a firm guarantee that no healthcare worker will be financially penalised for a school closure.
Union officials are meeting with the HSE and Department of Health tomorrow (Thursday) on the issue.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“The pandemic is back at full force and we need all hands on deck in our hospitals.
“We must not repeat the mistakes of past waves and provide meaningful childcare options for healthcare workers. When schools last closed, childcare was the number one issue raised with us by members.
“COVID has already decimated our hospital rosters, with over 3,000 HSE staff out due to close contacts or the virus. Health service staffing cannot be further undermined by lack of childcare.
“The UK provided childcare and kept schools open for children of healthcare workers. We should learn from this. The government should be doing everything in their power to keep healthcare staff in work.
“We are asking healthcare staff to take great risks in providing care. The very least we can do is ensured their children are cared for as they do so.”