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should i be paying retainer when the place is unavailable?

(26 Posts)
oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 16:54:24

Can someone tell me if this is ok.
I am a teacher and pay half pay through school hols as a retainer. We have used the same childminder for 2.5 years now and usually duringt he holidays we ask her to take the children for a couple of mornings / days a week so that they don't get too used to being with me and I have a chance to get a few things done.
This is always done on a very casual basis. This year however the childminder is taking on 9month old twins in september, and is having them for times over the hols so they can get used to her.
Because of this, when I asked her about taking the children some of the hols, she said she could only do 3 mornings in the whole of the 6 weeks because of her numbers. i understand the whole numbers thing but should I be paying a retainer when the place I'm retaining is not really available to me?

dmo Tue 29-Jul-08 16:56:20

no i dont think so

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 17:15:38

I dont think so either but Im not sure what to do about it as I dont want to upset her - she's a really good minder.

MindingMum Tue 29-Jul-08 17:15:38

um... this is a odd one because she should be able to offer you the equivelent hours for which you pay a retainer iyswim - so if your retainer adds up to 10 hours a week, then she should be able to offer you 10 hours of childcare.

however if you don't pay the retainer she doesn't have to hold the place at all so i think this is something that isn't black and white.

If i were you, i would ask her for a meeting to discuss it.

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 17:17:39

I pay her full time (7:30 - 5:00) for both my children sdo we pay quite a lot of retainer. I need some time to get stuff sorted for hols and work so I looked into summer clubs and discovered that what I wanted would cost £150. We cant afford to pay this and her retainer.

MindingMum Tue 29-Jul-08 17:50:15

In that case No she shouldn't be charging you as she doesn't have anywhere near the hours available that you are paying for.

I would contact the NCMA who will be able to advise you better

I don't normally side with parents on here but I think it is a little cheeky to expect you to pay all that retainer, not have the space for you and all while she is getting paid to mind the twins anyway hmm

hana Tue 29-Jul-08 17:51:55

this is double dipping and is fairly grabby I think. my sister's cm used to do this

KatyMac Tue 29-Jul-08 17:52:33

There are two different types of retainer

One is to reserve a place that you want but not yet - this can be used

The other is to hold a Term-time place during the holidays - this normally can't be used - it is to ensure your place is available in September. If you want to use the holiday space the childminder must a) have a space and b) charge you for the other half of the time

KatyMac Tue 29-Jul-08 17:59:13

Some people call the second a 'holding fee' rather than a retainer - I think it's a more accurate description

welshdeb Tue 29-Jul-08 17:59:47

How will she have the space for your children and the twins in september if she can't mind them all now?

jillyj Tue 29-Jul-08 18:37:38

she should pay you back for the days she is unavailable. ask to change to a pro rata system. much fairer

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 19:31:40

Before the hols welshdeb she was full time minding my2 plus another 4 yr old. In the hols she minds the other 4 yr olds sister who is 6 and at school during term time. She says that she can now only mind my 2 and the twins or the other family and the twins. The other family want her some of the time and she has hols in the middle of the 6 weeks so the sum total she's available for me is 3 days adn she specifically said she would only want them mornings because of the twins.
I'm really fair with her. In the hols I bringt hem late and pick up early (9-4) even though I pay 7:30-5. And I never make a fuss or complain when she takes her hols in term time even though this creates real problems for me.
In September, the other family are finishing so it will be only my 2 and the twins. This situation should therefore not occur again. partly I blame myself for not organising earlier when she will have them in the hols but we've only done it on such a casual basis. I didn't think there would be a problem.
Also can I ask - is it ok for her to take 2 children under 1?

Fadge Tue 29-Jul-08 19:34:14

Yes if she has permission ( variation) from Ofsted.

I think Katymac is right here - owwlias - do you normally have to pay extra on top if you use your CM in the holidays?

KaySamuels Tue 29-Jul-08 19:36:40

With the children being twins cm should have applied for a variation to have two under ones.

I agree with the other posters that cm shouldn't be charging you full, FT fees like that if she can't even offer you some childcare during the hols! I am a softy cm though who would feel too guilty to do it!!

I think having a meeting with her sounds like a good idea.

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 19:38:22

We just top up the retainer to make it up to our normal fee in the holidays.

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Tue 29-Jul-08 19:42:53

I feel a little bit like she's being grabby as we pay for 2 full time places but my daugher goes to pre school 5 mornings a week - i understand that she is still the carer which is why Ive never bothered about paying this. and as I said before I try to be nice in the hols dropping off late and picking up early. sometimes if she's going away for the weekend we pick up early so she can get away or sorted out. So this thing has really got me annoyed. I'll def arrange meeting asap but I dont want to fall out with her. the kids love her and I think she's brilliant.

Fadge Tue 29-Jul-08 19:54:52

ok then if you top it up when you do use her, I think that she is operating a system like many do as katymac pointed out, to hold your place for september. I think if you are unhappy about this ask for a renegotiation and go on proper term time only, but the you take the chance each time that your place may have gone.

vInTaGeVioLeT Tue 29-Jul-08 21:49:13

hmmmm - this is tricky - i don't think she is being fair.
you need to arrange a meeting and discuss the situation really.

i dont quite undersatnd what you are paying? Are you paying her the same in the hols?

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Wed 30-Jul-08 08:10:18

In the hols I pay her half pay as retainer. So last year I paid 37 weeks full pay and 13 weeks half pay (she has 2 weeks hols when I dont pay). When I have used her in hols before I have just topped up the half pay to make it full pay (casual arrangement)

navyeyelasH Wed 30-Jul-08 11:27:22

It sounds like to me that this is happening:

Your CM works full time inc school holidays. If you weren't a teacher she would normally be using your spaces 247 for full rate. But because you are a teacher she has sort of done you a deal where you only pay half during the summer holidays. But this is not a retainer, it's a sort of goodwill gesture on CM's behalf that she is not charging you full wack in the hols as technically she is losing money by not having children who go full time during hols.

Does that makes any sense to anyone else? I have a friend who is a teacher and her little boy goes to nursery his usual times even in the holidays as she has to pay for his space regardless.

Maybe i your CM mind you don't really need childcare in hols so it seemed silly to her to turn down the twins as there will only be a few months overlap between the 3 families. She probably figured that this overlap would be fine as you don't (she thinks - esp if you had nothing organised) need childcare in hols?

I hope this make sense? If this is not what she is doing, and it is as you think then yes I agree with others that it does seem to be a bit greedy!

tiggerlovestobounce Wed 30-Jul-08 11:32:57

I think she is being greedy. If you are paying a retainer for a space then it should be there for you to use. If she cant take your children then she shouldnt accept a retainer for the space (because there isnt a space is there!)

Fadge Wed 30-Jul-08 12:05:56

Navyeyelash, this is exactly what it appears to be and maybe the OP has misunderstood slightly? This is common practise among term time only placements.

dmo Wed 30-Jul-08 12:11:14

i understand what your saying re the place but as she now has the twins and unable to have the op children then i think i reduction in payment would be a good step forward

Fadge Wed 30-Jul-08 12:12:27

WHy? the fee is to hold her place for September - not to have it put aside solely for her use in the holidays, hence she has to book and pay full fees if she requires care in holidays?

oldwomanwholivedinashoe Wed 30-Jul-08 13:34:11

I think what navyeyelash said is probably correct adn I think that this is probably exactly what she is doing. I suppose she has to take something becasue in effect by taking my children she is losing place which could be filled with other parent who was not a teacher.
I think this is a case of bad communication. We have never really discussed the holida retainer fee. Its the first time in nearly 3 years that something like this has happened we never have any other probs. I'm going to talk to her about it. Thanks for all you posts. It will make talking about it with her easier.

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