Force Majeure in ELC and SAC services is a mechanism under which service providers can be given permission to close and continue to receive funding under ECCE, the NCS or the Saver schemes. Providers can apply for force majeure funding to Pobal. The forms are available on PIP and Hive. Force majeure applies to the closure of the full service.
Force majeure applications are considered on a case by case basis, and are granted when a service closes due to circumstances outside of its control for example, power blackout, local flooding or a regional or national severe weather warning under which people are asked not to travel.
Force majeure may also be given for health related issues. If a service is directed to close by Public Health, due to Covid-19 or other reasons, that service will receive force majeure funding for the period they have been directed to close. A service must provide evidence of a direction from Public Health when applying to Pobal for force majeure funding.
Where a service has an outbreak of Covid-19 but is not directed to close by Public Health there is no automatic right to force majeure funding. However if a service is unable to operate due to a reduction of staff numbers due to Covid-19, whether staff are Covid-19 positive or are awaiting testing, the service can apply to Pobal for force majeure funding. A service must provide evidence of why staff cannot attend work, such as correspondence from the HSE, when applying to Pobal for force majeure funding.
If a service is required to close a pod or a room, force majeure does not apply. In this case services can continue to receive Department scheme funding for children who are absent for up to 4 weeks. A force majeure application to Pobal is not required in these circumstances. There is provision for children to be absent for more than 4 weeks in exceptional circumstances. There is provision for children to be absent for more than 4 weeks in exceptional circumstances and service providers should apply to Pobal in such instances.
Public health advice is that it is safe for ELC/SAC services to operate. Therefore, force majeure permission will not be given where a service decides to close due to Covid-19 concerns, whether by decision of a Board of Management or by decision by an owner/operator, and where there is no direction to close by public health.
Please also find the latest public health update from the Office of the Clinical Director of Health Protection, Health Service Executive (HSE) to childcare service providers here.