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Confused about retainer fee

(12 Posts)
sola82 Thu 18-Jun-15 19:49:34

I've been looking for a childminder to provide before and after school care from September, when DS starts school and I return to work (teaching). I managed to find someone that I liked, who my DS seemed really comfortable with.
So, we had already discussed fees and hours etc and I went round today to sign contracts and other forms. On the contract it mentioned a holiday retainer fee of half the normal rate. When I asked the CM about it she said it was standard practice to keep a place open for my DS. She said she wouldn't charge for the remainder of this term but would for all school holidays. I was a little confused but accepted this explanation and signed the contract.

Since now looking it up though, people seem to say it's for either holding a place if your child isn't starting immediately, or keeping a place open during holiday if you only need termtime. Whilst both these would seem applicable to me, this CM only does before and after school during term time, she does not offer any childcare during the holidays, so I'm not sure why I need to be paying this retainer fee.

Am I missing something obvious? Would appreciate anyone who could enlighten me on this.

HSMMaCM Thu 18-Jun-15 20:19:49

I would charge a full fee retainer, because I'm available to work, but if she only works term time, it seems a little strange. However ... She can charge what she likes and you can decide whether to accept it. It depends how much choice you have really. What does the contract say about what the retainer is for? If it's to keep a place available, then it might be handy to have a few days care in the holiday, for a top up to full fee.

kathryng90 Thu 18-Jun-15 20:22:04

Personally as a cm if I offer term time only I don't charge retainers. I am full during the holidays so have no need. The retainer is to reserve your child's place next term.

As a cm she is self employed and will follow her own rules and make her own fees.

Maryann1975 Thu 18-Jun-15 21:02:43

I agree with everyone else that it's her rules as she is self employed, but i thought a retainer meant the place was available just that you weren't wanting to use it so paid to reserve it. In this case, there is no place during the holidays so I think it's wrong you should have to pay.
I would have another chat with her.

sola82 Thu 18-Jun-15 22:16:21

Thanks for the replies. I'll call her tomorrow and query it.

Ternet Sat 27-Jun-15 12:40:42

The retainer is to retain the terms of the contract whilst you are away. If you havs a term time only contract then you should be paying a retainer to retain your childs place until you return. Quality Provision is Registered under Government Guidelines restricting number of Registered Placements, if you want your child to secure onenthen retain it or someone else can use it. I never understand how Service Users expect a Service Provision to sit around and keep places open without payment.

LuckyLopez Sat 27-Jun-15 12:44:37

ternet the service provider is not holding open a space- they are closed. No one else can use the spot because the cm works TTO.

wheresthelight Sat 27-Jun-15 19:52:26

I have only heard of this for full time cms who have term time only kids. My cm is one such. A close friend is a ta and our girls go to the same cm (albeit completely by accident) she doesn't need the cm in the holidays but to keep her dds place she pays a 50% retainer fee.

Mind I know we are very lucky with our cm as she is amazing, incredibly reasonably priced, doesn't charge extra for trips and doesn't charge us for her holiday time. The girls adore her and she clearly adores all the kids. They are treated like family which I love!

minderjinx Sun 28-Jun-15 08:24:59

I think the confusion is about the term retainer. As used in the NCMA/PACEY contracts a retainer is paid to hold a place while it is not used, so for example somebody using a place only in term time will pay half fee over the holidays. Often they will be able to use the place in the holiday if they pay the rest of the fees. If there is no service in the holidays, then money paid to reserve a place for after the holidays is not a retainer in that sense. That doesn't mean a fee cannot be charged and it is quite possible that this particular childminder views the fees charged more in the terms Ternet suggests above - a fee to reserve a future place. Every childminder sets their own terms and conditions and so long as it is clear what is and is not included for the fees they can be called whatever she chooses. I always say it is vital to look at the overall package of services and cost and make sure you are happy overall, rather than focusing on one particular element of the package.

eastmidswarwicknightnanny Tue 30-Jun-15 04:37:50

I had this too secured the care in April and no mention of this fee I asked lots of questions as well then given contract few weeks ago and charges 50% in all hols to hold place for following half term despite being closed and we actually need holiday care and would be paying elsewhere and when I spoke to her she didn't say oh sorry thought i explained that just said everyone else pays it so wasn't negotiable, she charges same as all other in village per hr so isn't a matter of same cost over a year, serious lack childcare in Village means she prob didn't mention it as I would have to use her but some juggling of work hrs by dh and I and some juggling by another childminder we have gone else's as was equally a trust thing for me as she has been doing it 15yrs and seemed to deliberately omit this information initially.

hooker29 Wed 01-Jul-15 14:40:09

As others have said, she can set her own terms but I don't see how she can charge a retainer for a space that isn't there? You are paying for a space that you will never even get the option to use so I would query it.

DrinkFeckArseGirls Wed 01-Jul-15 16:41:45

Did she say retainer? Or rather the contract did? I think deposit to secure a place would be reasonable but a retainer is strange.

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