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childminders being paid for school holidays - is this normal?

(47 Posts)
lisalisa Thu 15-Nov-12 00:16:44

I have used nannies a lot in the past but this is dc number 6 and we have no real need for a nanny anymore so have decided to use a local and fantastic childminder. Admittedly and rather shamefacedly I didn't really read the contract we signed ( childminder is a very close acquaintance) and had such a good reputation that we just signed.

We have already had a 10 day holiday ( that was for religious reasons - childminder same religion as us) and now half term is for 6 days . During those times we have paid her. We pay monthly so there is no deduction for holidays.

I don't begrudge this money as she does a fantastci job and well beyond what I imagine is provided elsewhere ( she has a long waiting list and is very well repsected in the local area). Its just that 16 days since starting in September is quite a lot and as I work I have had to pay for alternative childcare duing those days meaning that I have paid twice really.

I am self employed and if I don't work I don't get paid. I would have imagined that most self employed people would work the same way as me ( simply by virtue of being self employed).

Do all childminders work like this?

MrAnchovy Mon 19-Nov-12 23:45:19

if you pay her for holidays and sick pay, you are risking her being classed as your employee not self employed

This is not true.

Because a childminder is free to look after other children at the same time as yours (among other reasons) she can never correctly be treated as self employed.

minderjinx Mon 19-Nov-12 21:00:21

I average out the expected fees over the year, but I also charge separately for extras and overnights so nobody is likely to get much behind, and all will be up to date by the end of the year. I also now charge on booking for extra days/sessions, as I was getting messed about a lot with people booking me then changing their minds after I had changed my own plans to suit them. My year coincides with the school year as the end of a school year is when children generally move on and accounts need to be squared.

DontmindifIdo Mon 19-Nov-12 20:57:57

Get a copy of the contract and check - IIRC, if you pay her for holidays and sick pay, you are risking her being classed as your employee not self employed, that has NI repracussions and could be pricy if the revenue decides to look at Childminders.

Most childminders round here charge if they are available even if you aren't using the service (so if you take your DC on holiday, she is still available for you) but not if they aren't available (so their holidays).

HSMM Mon 19-Nov-12 20:48:54

DIYapprentice - you are of course right smile

It just happened that way, as my rate reviews happen on 1st Jan and it worked for the first parent that wanted a standing order payment.

The parent getting a refund is very happy for her Christmas bonus and the other is lovely and I would not dream of getting her to pay all hers at once, even though she knew it was coming, because she had seen it every month and booked some overtime and overnights, which were not included in the original calculation.

It does make extra work for me, balancing their statements and getting them to change their standing orders (which for some reason they never get round to), but it works for the parents and happy parents are happy customers.

DIYapprentice Mon 19-Nov-12 20:33:51

HSMM - that's a clever way of doing it! Although I think I'd be tempted to do it by school year rather than calender year, must be hard to lose extra money over the Christmas period, either for your clients or for you, and MOST changes would happen with new school years.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 19-Nov-12 18:33:29

Op have you managed to review your contract yet ?

HSMM Mon 19-Nov-12 18:29:16

I make it clear with every monthly statement how much we are over or under on fees and that the balance is payable at the end of the year. This year I have one parent getting a refund for Christmas and another spreading her repayment over a few months. They both knew it was coming up.

DIYapprentice Mon 19-Nov-12 17:27:40

I have a term time contract so don't pay for school holidays, but if your CM isn't available to take your DC FULL TIME during school holidays (with extra fees, obviously), or to pick them up from a day time club at roughly the same time as they would be collected from school (should they be old enough to go to one and there are some in the area that she can pick up from) then I wouldn't agree to it because otherwise it's unusable childcare.

My first CM averaged out payments, but when I stopped using her she was actually worse off because we hadn't had the main block holidays so I told her to include that difference in the final invoice so that she wasn't worse off. I didn't mind averaging out, but prefer just paying for the days I use TBH because if it had been the other way around and I could have been the one worse off, and not all CMs will make up the difference.

MyBestfriendsWedding Sun 18-Nov-12 09:33:17

Akasa I've always felt as a CM that the contracts we can purchase and use for our business are very easy to understand and are parent friendly. There isn't any small print - it should read quite straightforward. It's down to all CMs to ensure fees and holiday are all set down on paper and to ensure the parent is fully understanding of what terms they're signing. We should start as we mean to go on.

Akasa Sun 18-Nov-12 08:24:55

MyBestfriendsWedding, I agree wholeheartedly with you about the need to go through contracts with a fine toothcomb with prospective parents. There seem to be many questions on here along the lines of "I didn't realise I would have to pay this" or "I have been charged for something that I wasn't expecting". These are all very clear signs of someone not having read (or understood) the contract they were signing.

TiredBooyhoo Sat 17-Nov-12 16:53:43

thanks for responding. that's great to know.

MyBestfriendsWedding Sat 17-Nov-12 16:05:25

Akasa I can't comment on how you run your business. I'm glad it works for you. I run my business with a lot of care over finances and never had a complaint re fees for the 7 years I've been working. I have everything set out in my contract relating to fees so there shouldn't ever be a monetary dispute. It's quite simple and im financially able to work out any refunds when needed. If I had hours with a family that were sporadic and were not identical each wk, i would re think my terms, but I've not had that request for many years. I'm not a member of the NCMA. I may be wrong, but I recall them once advising CM's to take paid holiday, which is always the hot debate on here.

Akasa Sat 17-Nov-12 15:01:33

I have minded a number of children of parents in the education profession but have never gone down the route of averaging the payments - I have interestingly, never been asked to do it either!

All my parents pay by the hour for the coming month so each month's bill varies - no two months will normally ever be the same. If the parent can't cope with bills of varying amounts each month, then that's a pretty poor state of affairs. I can see no benefit for me receiving equal amounts of money each month. I want to know that the money being paid to me is for the work I am contracted to do in the coming month - nothing more and nothing less - agree with others, then I know exactly where I am.

I do know from experience that there can be a legal problem in the event of a contract termination or monetary dispute which I was advised of a few years ago. It has to be extremely carefully written into the contract because otherwise, the childminder appears to be receiving money when no service has been provided.

On this issue, I believe the NCMA recommendation is against "averaging" and for once, I agree with them!!

MyBestfriendsWedding Sat 17-Nov-12 14:33:52

Tired in answer to your question, no smile Your fellow CMs are giving good advice as some of us have been on the receiving end of bad payers and its not a nice situation to be in. My terms work well and not unreasonable, I wouldn't change them. I always sit down and go through the contract and fees. If both parents are involved then they both need to sign contract too. We need to be on top of our business financially and contractually. Communication is the key in most cases. Be clear on your fees and terms and stick to them.

ZuleikaD Sat 17-Nov-12 13:41:54

I'd agree with MyBestFriendsWedding - I also only accept bank transfer and childcare vouchers - and even then you get late payers that you have to be tough with. Unfortunately some people will take the p* if you let them so the only answer is to be straight down the line professional. I also give parents all my terms up front - I send them an email with all the stuff about what I charge for and what I don't before we get as far as contracts.

TiredBooyhoo Sat 17-Nov-12 13:24:35

mybestfriendswedding do you find the inflexibility puts alot of parents off? i am registering and other CMers are advising me to be firm from the start, set my terms and stick to them but i worry about getting the balance right and dont want to put people off. like you though, all my CMer friends have been messed around when they first started.

MyBestfriendsWedding Sat 17-Nov-12 06:39:51

I calculate my fees over 12 months and only accept bank transfers and childcare vouchers. Im not flexible with any other payment request. I've had some terrible payers in the past and it put me financially in a mess. I learnt the hard way. I can't afford to work term time only for a full time space, I'm available all year round, expect for my 4 wks unpaid holiday. If I have a parent on my books who only require term time, I still charge full fee for their space when child is off as I'm still open. Parents need to take more care when signing contracts. I wouldn't sign anything without reading it first! I ensure I sit down with parents and go through everything on the contract and ask them to take it home to read before signing. I also don't charge for my sickness.

ZuleikaD Sat 17-Nov-12 05:43:39

I send parents an invoice that's accurate for that month - so taking into account holidays, bank holidays etc. It does mean my income can fluctuate by about £250 depending on the length of month (December is bad, for example) but I can deal with that and I'd rather not have the faff of 'who's in credit to whom'.

nokidshere Sat 17-Nov-12 00:43:08

I am always surprised at the number of people asking about what is "right or wrong" AFTER they have signed the contract confused

HSMM Fri 16-Nov-12 23:08:05

I have people who prefer a monthly standing order, so I spread their fees overthe year.

ReetPetit Fri 16-Nov-12 12:55:45

i don't charge when i'm not available, so if i'm sick, my ds's are sick or we are away - no charge to parents.
if i am available and they don't need me, i still charge.
i know lots of childminders who charge up to 6 weeks full fee and sick days, fair play to them, i say. if parents sign the contract then thats up to them.
personally, i'm not comfortable with charging someone for a service i'm not providing but we are all different.

nannynick Fri 16-Nov-12 11:23:46

Do parents prefer to have fees spread over 12 months or would they want higher costs some weeks and no cost other weeks?

MaryPoppinsBag Fri 16-Nov-12 09:52:59

I don't charge for school holidays, because I'd rather not work them.

I have 2 families who are term time only and 2 who need holiday care - however I will only work 3 days during the holidays.
And then one who is quite flexible.

I could've charged a retainer to my term time only families. But I really did feel like I'd get them over a barrel as I am one if 2 CM able to provide pick up at our school.

I do however, charge at the top end of the price range for the borough - because I have to make my money. And cover the fact I don't get the 20 days paid holiday afforded to most other working people.

CM is such an intrusive job and subject to rapid change and decline, it should be no surprise that people who do it want a decent reward for what they do.
Or do people think its money for old rope?

picturesinthefirelight Fri 16-Nov-12 09:36:13

It's normal to pay for any childcare over school holidays if they are open & available. Dh is a teacher but we still had to pay nursery over the summer holidays as they were open

I personally (being seld employed myself) would not sign a contract where I had to pay for a service that was not available but would fully accept my child's sickness/holidays had to he paid for.

minderjinx Fri 16-Nov-12 09:32:44

Malovitt - regarding how is that right? Well it's neither right nor wrong imo, it's just business. The CMs charge what their local market will stand I guess. If they were raking in the cash, surely more local parents would want to be childminders and there would be more competition, or more parents would be travelling further afield, hiring nannies, or even choosing to look after their own children full time. The fact is that most families are willing to pay only a certain proportion of their second income for childcare, and that keeps childcarer incomes low. My point was that you cannot reasonably say a childminder is "wrong" to structure their fees as they see fit as long as they are open about it. Would it be okay, in your view, if they charged say an extra fiver a day, or an extra pound an hour, and no charge for days off? Surely one of the few benefits of being self-employed is that you can decide exactly what service you are willing to offer and on what terms, provided there is a market for it. I do offer term time only contracts incidentally, but that's my choice.

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