Childcare – why do we charge for Holidays?

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.

11 thoughts on “Childcare – why do we charge for Holidays?

  1. Claire says:

    I’m self-employed and not a childminder. I get paid for the services I provide and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. I don’t expect clients to pay me if I’m not there to provide my service. Why should they?

  2. Feisty Tapas says:

    Staying with the self-employed parent topic at bank holidays (the sector I represent), have you ever thought that by ensuring you keep your roof over your head you could take away theirs? That charging for bank holidays could put a huge amount of pressure.

    The government isn’t helping the self-employed, that is a given. Childminders do look after our most precious gifts, that’s another given. However, a self-employed parent working and overworking, juggling clients’ demands (which often mean a reduction in price nowadays), family demands, general household demands and trying to fit everything in between with no other help than you, the childminder they have to pay because there truly isn’t anybody else they can leave their children with… that self-employed parent may be stepping into your house one day, on the edge of a breakdown, holding back the tears, trying not to say that they just can’t cope, that the Easter and May bank holidays mean that within 2 months they pay four days that they don’t get. Four days that they don’t get to work. Four days that mean 32 hours that they will have to make up in the evenings. Four days that will contribute to their exhaustion. Four days that could mean they end up falling apart or just generally falling. That exhaustion can lead to accidents, to depression, to the loss of their business and livelihood.

    Their clients will be asking for crazy deadlines that they will be working over 60 (often over 80) hours a week to meet. Their clients will be asking them to reduce prices more and more to keep up with the economy. They will be doing favours free of charge to keep their clients happy and coming back. That self-employed parent will have too much pride to tell you “please give me a day in lieu, please don’t charge me full-price for a day I can’t work because, if I can’t work, I don’t get paid”. There is no one they can charge for that day, ever.

    The government isn’t contributing to making life easier for self-employed parents but you saying: “I’ll tell you what, so and so is on holiday this week so I have such day/s free, would you like to swap one/two/three of the bank holidays that you paid for that day? They are not paying because they gave plenty of notice, you have it.” Those hours you offer them, that can mean stepping back from a cliff of housework, admin, work, commitments, pressure… an endless list.

    In summary, I think that showing a bit of kindness, reading between (a person’s facial) lines, paying attention to the increasingly greyer shade of those dark circles, can work to your advantage as a human being and to theirs as a person about to go to their GP to say: I can’t do this anymore, there is no one I can rely on, no one to make things better, I feel lost, what do I do?

    Mainly, should anything happen to them because of their exhaustion or should that roof of theirs be taken away, should you find out there is no food on those mindees’ plates, you would feel like a monster as those X pounds you took could have ensured it was all present.

    Between self-employed parents, it should be about lending a hand, about getting to know each other and saying, out of the blue, you know what I’ve been there and I would have loved it if someone did this for me. The expression in that person’s face, as they step away from that cliff with relief, may be worth a lot more money than you will ever earn.

    You may both run different types of businesses but good business sense is the same whatever field you work on.

    No one else is helping us, we might as well help each other.

    • Feisty Tapas says:

      …and I just wrote a whole essay, sorry!! Just a topic very close to my heart.

    • Kara Guppy says:

      As I said in my post Childminders are often more flexible, but people forget we are self employed too, therefore get no holiday / sick pay and rely on parents paying invoices on time.
      We are expected to entertain the kids (our job) and pay out weekly for soft play, farm visits, parks etc which is all included in the fees which in my case are way under the minimum wage in themselves and by the time you take out all the expenses amount to pretty much nothing!
      I have bent over backwards to help my parents, sometimes I have deferred or split payments for a month as tax credits haven’t kicked in, I have looked after children at short notice, late into the evening or rescued them when a car has broken down. I don’t mind helping, but when it is expected and not appreciated, that’s when it gets to me.
      I work around 50 hours a week, have to do a college course, as well as look after and support my own family – it’s hard work!

  3. Leanne McLoughlin says:

    Thanks for responding to my post.

    As far as Im concerned we should only have to pay for the service we recieve and if that service isnt available during Bank Holidays and Christmas week then why should we have to pay? We are all struggling to get by!

    As I said in my post I’m not disputing that the staff shouldn’t be paid for time off but I believe that this cost should be split fairly across all parents -why should I be penalised over £200 a year because Little E happends tp attend on a Monday and a Friday?

    • Kara Guppy says:

      I also see your point, but if you were a parent with a child who didn’t attend those days you would be complaining about having to pay it too.
      Maybe Nurseries should take heed and spread thew charges across the year and then it wouldn’t affect people as greatly.

      • Daniel Skodlerack says:

        It is not the point for the other parents to pay the fees for unreserved times.
        The whole costs of the nursery have to be covered by its earnings, and for fairness their should not be a specified Bank holidy charge. Bank holiday costs should be covered by all earnings during non-Bank holiday days, so by the rates, so everyone has to pay a little bit.

  4. Michelle Ashmore says:

    I never had a problem with paying when my child was sick or for the week we went on holiday because the way I saw it was, the nursery was open and available to have my child. If my child was ill it wasn’t the fault of the nursery or if I decided to take them on holiday, that was my choice and I expected to pay in both cases.
    When the nursery is closed and not offering the service but still taking my money and causing me to have to pay twice for childcare on that day, that is not ok with me and I do not agree with it.

    • Kara Guppy says:

      I honestly do see your point and did actually have my fees refunded when Kian was in Nursery and they were shut. I did have to prove I paid someone else to care for him, but it is always worth asking!

  5. Tracey says:

    I totally get this as I work as a Nursery Administrator in 2 nurseries and deal with fees. The staff in our nursery don’t get any sick pay though and this is the same for most of our local nurseries. Good luck for when you return back to child minding x

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