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childminder cancels contract and takes money

(33 Posts)
babi28 Sat 09-Mar-13 09:44:10

Hi. I recently signed a contract with a childminder in january 2013. I gave my two week notice on February 10th. I had family issues and had to go stay with my mum on the 11th of February. This was an unforseen emergency and unfortunately coincided with the first week of my two week notice period. The childcare provider was made aware of this and had no problem as she was paid in lieu of notice.

After staying at my mothers for a week I returned to my home on the 17th of February. My daughter had her last week at the childminders as the two week notice ended on the 24th of February. When I had text the childminder to say my daughter would be attending her sessions the childminder refused to look after her as she said that I has not contacted her for 7 days. She did not give me any written notice of cancelling the contract and she never refunded the money back to me. In summary she took my money for that week and did not work.

Since I am not rich I have been using citizens advice bureau for advice and I have sent the relevant letters via special delivery. The childminder is refusing to accept them and is saying that NCMA have advised her not to talk to me because the contract has now ended, she is also saying that I have to have a letter drafted by a solicitor to send to hers as they will not deal with myself. The other thing is that she never gave me a copy of my contract and is also telling me that NCMA is advising her to not give me a copy.

I really need some advise from other parents who have been through the same situation.

AndBingoWasHisNameOh Fri 15-Mar-13 11:15:00

If we are talking about 2 sessions here - perhaps £100 worth if that in total if full days? Galling as you may find it, I would really recommend deciding to let it go.

galbers Sun 10-Mar-13 21:31:37

Frankly it all sounds a complete horlicks and poor communication all round. Put it down to experience, reflect on it from her view point as well as your own and move on.

ReetPetit Sun 10-Mar-13 20:16:56

i don't think your cm has done anything wrong. it is only a relatively small amount of money (1 week) and even that is debatable as to whether she actually owes you - so I would just forget it. it will cause you more stress and possibly cost you to take this further so personally I would just let it go.
Next time, you have a cm however, do try to treat them better - it would serve you well - do as you would be done by and all that.... hmm

Reinette Sun 10-Mar-13 17:24:18

It sounds like you dropped the ball here and she fulfilled her contractual obligations. Sorry you were left stuck, it would have been nice for her to help you out, but from what you said ("When I had text the childminder to say my daughter would be attending her sessions the childminder refused to look after her as she said that I has not contacted her for 7 days") it sounds like her contract was clear ("The registered childminder may terminate the contract immediately for any of the following reasons...
Failure by the parent/guardian to show up for _ days in a row without any communication" being 7 days in her case). Chalk this one up to experience and move on.

babi28 Sun 10-Mar-13 15:23:28

Hi zuleikaD as you are able to quote the contract, when she brought my contract to look at I read that clause as I want this sorted, I read that sentence and thought the same however, it does say in brackets that each following reasons has to have a secondary qualifying reason from the list I believe the words (but not used solely). My cm cannot prove any of the reason stated in that part and also never gave me any written notice to cancel my contract.

One should not assume and as the citzens advice have advised me, they have also said there was no written confirmation by me. Even the written confirmation from the cm states I gave notice it does not state that when I gave notice my contract came to an immediate stop. Nor did she say that I could no longer bring my daughter when I verbally gave notice.

The cm has not filled my daughter's space in fact she told me that she is working a part time job and working as a part time cm. I could understand if she had an overflowing waiting list but she is only been operating since September 2012 and has only looked after 3 children.

I may not have communicated with from the 10th til the 17th but she knew i was having issues.

Branleuse Sun 10-Mar-13 07:26:09

your child minder is being reasonable and you are not.

ZuleikaD Sun 10-Mar-13 06:59:09

Standard NCMA contracts state on the fourth page that
*"The registered childminder may terminate the contract immediately for any of the following reasons...
Failure by the parent/guardian to show up for _ days in a row without any communication"*

and the CM fills in the blank. In my case it's 5 days. If you didn't communicate with her or show up for 7 days then she's probably entirely within her rights to consider the contract terminated immediately.

I do think it's odd that she won't give you a copy of the contract, but you would have had your own copy and to be honest I do think it's a bit lax to have lost it already given that you only signed in January.

Booyhoo Sat 09-Mar-13 23:10:21

so she didn't know when to expect DD and would only know at the point at which she was expected to have her again? that is bad communication on your part TBH. you really should have kept her updated whilst you were away.

babi28 Sat 09-Mar-13 23:04:04

I had said to her that I was not sure but would txt her when I was back

babi28 Sat 09-Mar-13 22:56:54

Booyhoo that is correct

Booyhoo Sat 09-Mar-13 22:53:31

also, what date did you tell your CMer that your dd would be returning from your mum's on?

Booyhoo Sat 09-Mar-13 22:51:11

ok so you gave 2 weeks notice on feb 10th but you had to go away from teh 11th til 17th so DD couldn't attend and when you returned on 17th CMer refused to take Dd even though she was paid up til 24th and notice didn't end until 24th?

Karoleann Sat 09-Mar-13 22:48:14

I think there has been a misunderstanding too, but the childminder (when she was contacted) was still under contract and therefore should have had your child or if she had filled the space, offered a refund for that week.

There seems to be a number you can call on the Nmca website, I don't know how helpful they will be, but at least you can clarify with them that you should have been given a contract.

I would then write to her again and state that she had been paid for those two notice weeks and therefore should, under the contract, have been able to provide care for your child. You therefore, expect for the fees for that week to be returned to you by xxx date. If they are not forthcoming, you will be forced to take the matter to a small claims court. This court can also award any extra costs you have incurred as a result of her not providing the contracted care and any costs you have incurred as a result of having to attend the court hearing.

Fightlikeagirl Sat 09-Mar-13 22:38:57

It seems to me that there has just been a big misunderstanding and break down of communication between the two of you. Did you tell her that you would be at your mums for the first week but back for the second? Sounds as though you didn't which would make her assume that you weren't coming back.
I think you will have to put this down to experience and you should use this as a lesson for next time - make sure you receive and keep a copy of the contract, put all things in writing and communicate more.

babi28 Sat 09-Mar-13 22:08:49

Also just to clarify I never had to pay a deposit at the beginning I paid from the moment I signed the contract and that was to cover that month period. As far as the childminder had told me, she said she worked her notice period. The bottom line is she is claiming that I cant have my contract, showing me is one thing but to actually sit down and read it is another I was never given that opportunity. I would never muck anyone around when it comes to money I wouldnt want the same done to me.

Apart from the letter from the childminder giving evidence of the nptice and to say that she could cancel my contract due to no communication for 7 days plus, I have not had anything else from her. I do not not have any real idea why she has kept the money and also why she will not allow me to have a copy of the contract. I have not had no form of letter to say that the contract was terminated the day I gave notice.

The main perogative here is that I am being told verbally and through texts yhat she has been advised through ncma that she does not need to give me a copy of the contract. This is against the data protection act, that contract states my daughters and mine personal details. Also I cannot get it legally checked over to say whether she is the right or wrong.

babi28 Sat 09-Mar-13 21:46:45

Ok I didn't know what 'in leiu of notice meant', I thought that it meant you paid the childminder in advance as I paid the childminder amonth in advance, therefore I paid the childminder for the month of february on the 1st. As my daughter went twice a week the terms were that I give two week notice period, as the childminder explained I give her notice on a date and 14 days later my daughter no longer goes and I do not need to pay her any more money. The childminder surely should not jump to any conclusions as to whether I bring my daughter for the last two weeks, especially if there is no evidence I.E letter form. I gave my notice verbally as again the childminder said this was ok to do and as I do not have my copy of the contract i could not check, the childminder wrote a letter to me confirming the notice and the words 'in lieu of notice' are not used, the childminder has since shown me the contract as she will not give a copy and it says that she has to have two or more reasons to cancel my contract. She knew that I was at my mothers before I gave her notice.
Thanks to the help

AdriftAndOutOfStardust Sat 09-Mar-13 19:27:37

It sounds like it all depends on how and by whom the phrase "pay in lieu of notice" was actually used.

If you used the phrase yourself when talking to her, then she would be quite reasonable to assume you meant, as others have posted above, that the contract was over effective immediately, the pay was compensation for the lack of notice, and she had no further obligations to you.

If she used the phrase to you before you went away and you didn't correct her, then it's amost as reasonable, and you probably still don't have a case though you could argue that you didn't hear/understand what she meant.

If this phrase wasn't used then you may have a case.

Personally I would just move on. The maximum you can gain from fighting this will be about £40. It will definitely take many hours of your time to fight it - you would be effectively working for less than minimum wage to do so. Walk away.

NickNacks Sat 09-Mar-13 19:11:51

Your thread title is incorrect.

YOU ended the contract and she kept the money IN LIEU OF NOTICE.

Nowt wrong with that sorry.

Sounds like you mucked her about to be honest.

ZuleikaD Sat 09-Mar-13 19:01:06

If she was paid in lieu of notice, then the contract is ended from that point and you no longer have a contractual relationship with her and no longer have a place in her setting. That's what in lieu of notice means - instead of notice. So you didn't actually have a notice period during which you could still send your child.

MrAnchovy Sat 09-Mar-13 18:51:32

@fuckwittery:

1. childminders do not have a professional body: the NCMA has no regulatory or supervisory role over childminders and have no mechanism for dealing with complaints from childminders' customers.

2. Ofsted only regulate childminders with respect to compliance with childcare regulations and have no interest in the conduct of their business.

Hope that may help grin

Fightlikeagirl Sat 09-Mar-13 16:43:36

Was thinking exactly the same as minderjinx, how much notice were you required to give?

minderjinx Sat 09-Mar-13 16:36:43

Most childminders ask for at least 4 weeks notice. If you said you had to take your child out immediately and offered two weeks fees in lieu of notice, this means she would not have expected your child to attend from that point. She may also actually have thought she was doing you a favour by accepting this instaed of four weeks fees, which may be why she is not best pleased with you now.

nannynick Sat 09-Mar-13 13:58:59

Sounds like there was some miscommunication. You gave notice and intended to send your child during that notice period but did not do so for week 1, so childminder may have assumed you would also not be attending week2. It may be down to something you had said, such as payment in lieu of notice, when you told them you would not be attending for week1. But did you say it was only for a week?

Small claims court would deal with this sort of thing in my view. The amount of money involved is probably under £600. It may be helpful for you to give us an idea of how much money is involved, as there are costs involved in taking things to small claim court and there is your time and your general wellbeing to take into account, anxiety level, worries about what happens in court, taking time off work to attend the court hearing (though not sure you have to attend).

Look at the evidence, is there any thing written down in any form, in particular about your child not attending week1 but would be attending week2.

fuckwittery Sat 09-Mar-13 10:45:12

Sorry I missed the in lieu of notice bit in the op. Did you let her know you might be back before the end of the notice period and thus may wish her to work beforevthe end of contractual notice period. As in lieu of notice does mean contract has ended so there may be confusion between you about this term.
How much was that weeks pay worth? I'm wondering if this is worth it given the scope for confusion in your conversation when you went away.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 09-Mar-13 10:42:09

I am confused.

You say you gave your childminder had no problem as she was paid in lieu of notice (coincidentally two weeks before contract ended).

As far as she is concerned, correctly, you paid her in lieu of notice (as you yourself said) therefore ending your contract with her immediately. You also withdrew your daughter immediately.

As far as I can your childminder is entirely correct.

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