This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Three month notice period(12 Posts)
Out of interest - how common is a three month notice period for nursery Ts & Cs?
In my experience, "childcare"-type settings (which run all year long) require one month's notice, whilst the more traditional nursery schools (which run according to the school holiday calendar) require a term's notice.
In my area, group settings as a whole are tending more towards a full term's notice. Preschools are almost all on a termly basis, together with about half of the nurseries from what I can tell.
It seems to have fallen increasingly into this pattern with the 30 funded hours, as funding it administered on a term by term basis. Funded places are, strictly speaking, only offered for a term at a time, though it’s normal to roll the offer forward.
Do you have a problem with three months' notice? Doesn’t it give you a higher degree of security?
I don't have a problem per se I just want to be fully informed. Not sure how it affords me more security as the three month notice period doesn't apply to the nursery just the parent. Unless I'm missing your point.
Doesn't the notice go both ways, so they have to give you 3 months as well?
No - they only have to give one month
In order for the contract to be considered fair, it should give the consumer a similar degree of notice period protection to the business. In fact, consumer law tends to give customers far more protection than businesses.
You need to check with a solicitor or CAB, but you probably have an unfair contract here, and a businesses will struggle to enforce unfair terms if a consumer is prepared to contest it. People frequently make the mistake of believing they are tied to any sort of contract terms no matter what, but it just isn’t true.
In practical terms, what is your up-front commitment to the notice period? Are you required to pay all the fees three months' in advance? Or is it a deposit lodged with the nursery, to be returned on leaving?
@itsaboojum thank you for your response. My baby hasn't actually started yet. I paid an initial deposit (£200). This reserved the place and the days that he would attend (refundable on last few payment). Originally he was down to go 4 days. This was actually arranged whilst pregnant (high demand in my area). Cut a long story short I am only returning to work 3 days now but this was not finalised with my employer until a couple of months ago. So I contacted the nursery to talk to them about the fact I would need to change the days. They said that they couldn't because I had not given 3 months notice (I have two). I have had to cancel the place and find an alternative nursery because otherwise I wouldn't have been able to work on one of the agreed days. The original nursery now want 3 months' fees and are threatening court.
You do need proper legal advice from an expert who will view the contract, not just me or some other MNer. You may well have some legal cover included in your home insurance package. Or find a solicitor who’ll give a free initial consultation to assess the worth of your case.
Don’t assume you’re stuck with unfair terms even if you signed up for them. Quite a lot of contracts operate on unfair or illegal terms simply because they get away with them unchallenged. JUst to give some idea, the U.K. government’s Competition and Marketing Authority publishes a guide to Unfair Contract Terms Guidance which runs to 144 pages of stuff that is outlawed.
Business-to-business contracts are broadly required to be even-handed in their terms. Business-to-consumer contracts have to go further and give consumers more protection than the business, within reasonable limits.
Depending on the circumstances in which you signed the contract and paid the posit, you may have a cooling-off period which negates the whole thing.
It may also work in our favour that the Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years advise against signing contracts for unborns. (Put brutally, it implies they’d have taken you to court for the fee if you’d lost the baby.)
I very much doubt you’ll be liable for anything like three months fees.
Ask the nursery for an itemised bill, detailing what all of the charges are for.
Note the following U.K. government advice, from their guide for consumers cancelling goods or services....
"Buseinesses can keep your deposit or advance payments, or ask you to pay a cancellation charge, only in certain circumstances. If you cancel the contract, the business is generally only entitled to keep or receive an amount sufficient to cover their actual losses that directly result from your cancellation (ie costs already incurred or loss of profit.) Businesses must take reasonable steps to reduce their losses(eg by re-selling the goods or services.) Non-refundable deposits should only be a small percentage of the total price. Cancellation charges must be a genuine estimate of the business' direct loss."
What you say about high demand suggests they should be well-placed to sell the place on. They cannot chose to just sit on the vacant place and take your money instead, as they have a legal duty to mitigate the loss, and a ready supply of families waiting for vacancies.
So, they should only be billing you for a fairly nominal administration charge.
It depends how you want to play it, but if it were me, I’d be offering the nursery manager one chance to get it right before I notify local trading standards officers.
@itsaboojum thank you so much for taking the time to send such a helpful response. I was able to meet with my solicitor this afternoon and it was really useful to be armed with that information. He reiterated much of what you already raised in legal terms and is going to come back to me on the cooling off period point. The T&Cs specifically state that the contract was not concluded until they write to me and he thinks that there may be something in this (as there is no mention of a cooling off period elsewhere and as such it automatically extends to a year). Aside from this we discussed at length the penalty clause aspect. Thank you very much again for your help.
Please login first.