Childcare is a really emotive subject and I have talked about it on my blog before in relation to how much it costs.
The latest issue to raise its head is charging for Bank Holidays / Holidays and Absence in this thought provoking post by Second Time Mummy.
Firstly, I admit I used to hate this practice and never understood why nurseries and childminders did this until I set up as a childminder myself. In fact I made a big mistake of not charging for these days in the beginning and am changing my policies when I return from Maternity Leave.
This is my business, my living, my wages – they pay for my kids to eat, the bills, a roof over my head just like your wages! Any fluctuation in my wages is a major headache and I have to cut back or make changes.
I earn well below the minimum wage for looking after the precious commodity that are children. I have copious amounts of form filling and procedures to follow as well as making sure I am following the EYFS, teaching the children and charting their progress, and helping build their confidence where they may be falling behind in their development.
We have to be Ofsted registered, have liability insurance, first aid trained, pay tax and NI, supply good quality toys and equipment etc – this all costs money!
Nurseries have to provide the same, often have to jump through more hoops AND have to pay their staff wages, holiday pay, sickness pay, training etc. The Nursery fees will reflect that.
If you are employed by an employer (not self-employed), you will be either paid for a bank holiday or get a days paid holiday by law -
All workers are entitled to be paid holiday pay, even casual or temporary workers. Currently the statutory minimum is 28 days per year (which includes 8 bank holidays).
Likewise if you are expected to work it, you invariably get a days holiday in lieu or extra time, depending on your employer. Nurseries will still have to pay their staff for this day, therefore they still charge – I understand this reasoning as they are a business not a charity.
It’s the same with holidays and sickness – they still have to pay their staff whether your child is there or not so I can understand them charging for 52 weeks of the year.
Childminders are often more flexible with this arrangement, but it does vary. I won’t charge for holiday’s booked in advance (at least 4 weeks notice) and I don’t charge a fee for holding a place open over the school holiday’s if the parents are lucky enough to take time off, as I can normally fill the space with someone looking for holiday childcare. I also don’t charge if I am on holiday or sick, but some do – after all it is the equivalent of holiday / sick pay with the company you are employed by.
I will work Bank Holiday’s if requested, but I charge time and a half for that as it is a public holiday and I have never been questioned over that decision, plus I remain open between Christmas and New Year, although most people have that time off anyway so I am quiet.
I would also like to point out that any subsidy they get from the government for two and three year olds is far less than the hourly rate they charge and covers term time only – which is why people are expected to make up the difference.
I want to finish by adding this quote by my good friend and fellow Childminder Annie:
I am sick of hearing complaints about the cost of childcare. We generally charge less than minimum wage per hour, yet we are trained to professionally look after the most precious thing ever – human life, children – we nurture, care, protect and help develop.