Local nursery closure - notice period advice
MiltonKeynesAnon · 08/05/2019 15:44
I need some advice or help to see where I stand with regards my daughters nursery. She is 20 months old and been in a local nursery for the past 8 months, which she absolutely loves. Unfortunately this nursery has been leasing the classrooms of the local primary school, where the lease is up in July. We have known this since our daughter joined but we were promised a new, purpose built nursery just around the corner, so weren't overly worried.
However, last week an urgent meeting was held where it has come to light that the building was potentially never a viable solution (even though we were shown builders plans / blue prints of it!) and that the council money that was allocated for it, has been reallocated to another project (still not sure on this bit, as know one seems to be able to get a straight answer). This has meant that the likely hood is that the nursery will close :(
We are now desperately trying to find alternative childcare but as you can imagine, most are full, more expensive or both or don't do the hours we need. We've found a few though, which will hopefully help.
My question though is, apparently on our contract (of which we were never given a copy) we have to give 6 weeks notice! We're not even sure if the nursery will be around in 6 weeks due to staff leaving daily at the moment and the fact we have been misled all the way through; we just want to get our daughter out of there and into another, more stable situation. Surely they cannot enforce the notice period, where they cannot for sure tell us we even have a premise to go into or that the place might implode at any given moment? The deputy manager there left yesterday as she couldn't cope with the situation any more, which meant, the older children had to be picked up earlier as there simply was not enough staff to cope ... I'm dreading a similar phonecall!
We can't afford to pay another month there and at a potential new nursery :(
Any help would be brilliantly received,
itsaboojum · 08/05/2019 18:19
Are we talking about a privately-owned nursery or a council-run nursery?
MiltonKeynesAnon · 08/05/2019 18:48
It's a privately owned / run nursery
itsaboojum · 09/05/2019 07:20
I think you’re likely to find you are bound by the contract you signed, including the notice period, for as long as the nursery continues trading.
You should speak with Citizens' Advice to check what rights you have. They’re probably going to need to know the nature of the business: whether it’s a partnership, sole trader, limited company, etc. and whether they are likely to cease trading through bankruptcy or be taken over by an insolvency company, etc.
It might be worth asking the nursery if you can move to a shorter notice/payment period, in view of the circumstances, but they aren’t obliged to change anything.
If the nursery is part of a larger business or chain, then you should get your money back from the point at which they can no longer provide the service. If it’s just one nursery and they go out of business, then customers will be very low on the list of creditors for the winding-up process. Customers tend to get no more than 10% of their money back in such circumstances.
The best thing is if you pay them by credit card, as you should then enjoy Section 75 protection, which entitles you to a refund from the credit card company.
MiltonKeynesAnon · 09/05/2019 12:44
So, the nursery is run by a LTD company, trading as another. The nursery itself, based on communication from the manager and deputy manager, is likely to fold (which method is inconsequential) as they cannot find alternative premises.
The issue we have is staff are leaving by the day, which as soon as they do not have enough staff to cater for the staff to child ratio, surely they themselves are in breach of contract? They physically cannot look after our daughter, so there fire are not providing the service we pay for.
The worst part of which I am sure would be in our favour if it ever went to court would be, a room full of children was left alone for a number of minutes while the only member of staff available, had to go and speak to parents outside. The safeguarding and the well-being of children is surely in breach (imagine what would happen if something had happened to child in that situation).
If we were to remove our daughter, stating we deem she is unsafe at this point in time due to those reasons, would that not make the notice period null and void?
itsaboojum · 09/05/2019 15:10
Right now you need proper legal advice, not my opinion or any other netmum contributors. This could be as costly as the nursery bill, or more so. You should check to see what legal expenses cover may be included with your home insurance; use CAB; or find a solicitor who offers a free initial consultation to decide if it is worth proceeding.
You have some perfectly good and reasonable points, but there could well be perfectly acceptable counter arguments from the nursery company, from a legal point of view.
My guess is they’re likely to continue trading until the point where staff ratios make it impossible to do so lawfully. They then close the service without the standard notice period and not be considered in breach of contract because they can argue a point of law called 'frustration', because matters beyond their control will be preventing them from fulfilling the contract.
Similarly your point about safeguarding and welfare is good, BUT........ There is a very obvious flaw in it. The nursery will very easily counter that no reasonable person would continue sending their child to a setting they believed could not care for them safely. Not being judgmental, but your actions would seem to negate your argument, in a legal sense.
Before you can argue inadequate welfare and safeguarding, you’d probably have to had removed the child and raised a formal complaint.
I know none of this solves the obvious problem that you cannot easily leave this nursery unless and until you have alternative childcare lined up. Unfortunately that has little or no bearing on your contract with the current nursery or the implications of a claim regarding welfare and safeguarding.
MiltonKeynesAnon · 09/05/2019 15:25
Thank you for all your help and it's basically what I thought ... just not what I hoped for. I've started looking into local solicitors, even if it's just for advice on the above. Thanks again.
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