Updated Free Childminder Contracts and Fees Policies
We have received a lot of enquiries from Childcare.co.uk members who want to revise their Contracts and Fees Policies to include a clause requiring parents to pay if the childminder is closed down in exceptional circumstances, such as by the government, as is happening at the moment with COVID-19.
Childminder Contracts and Fees Policies do not typically include an exceptional circumstances clause to require parents to pay for childcare in the event of, for example, government closing down childcare settings. Why would they? This situation has never happened before and it wasn’t something anyone could have anticipated.
As a general rule, events like war, riots and global pandemics are considered to be ‘force majeure’ events which means that the normal obligations of the contract may change or not apply at all.
We have taken and legal advice which states that changing the contract wording to include a new clause that forces parents to pay childminders in full during ‘force majeure’ events would not likely to be legally enforceable in the courts.
However, if you do want to add something to your contracts, bearing in mind it may not be legally enforceable and may be considered by some to be morally and ethically wrong, the following sample wording might be used:
‘The parent agrees and accepts that this Contract will not be voided by riots, civil unrest or commotion, pandemic, social “lockdown” or strike action. In these circumstances, the childminder reserves the right to charge the parent a retainer, in the form of a reduced amount of ....% of their normal weekly / monthly fee for the duration of the closure. If parents do not pay this retainer fee, please bear in mind that your child’s space may not be available on your return.’
Alternatively, you might feel, on reflection, that it is better to have a conversation with parents about the situation, rather than adding a legally unenforceable clause in your Contract and Fees Policy. You could, for example, ask parents if they are in a secure enough financial position to support you with paying a retainer whilst you are closed. However, it is up to you to discuss that with parents.
The FREE Childcare.co.uk guidance to writing a Childminder Contract and Fees Policy has been updated in August 2020 to reflect this information and as a result of the findings of the recent CMA investigation into the early years sector and their open letter.
Read our FAQ for childcare providers in relation to the CMA investigation.
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