Childcare Providers and Coronavirus FAQ

7th April 2020

We are living in deeply worrying and unprecedented times which is having a huge effect on the entire population but is particularly concerning for childminders.

We are doing everything we can to help and support childcare providers during this very challenging period. Here is a list of some of the frequently asked questions being asked by childminders.

Latest guidance from the Department for Education and Ofsted

The Department for Education has issued guidance for Ofsted registered childcare providers of all ages including childminders, nurseries and wraparound childcare and clubs (before- and after- school and holiday care).   There are also rolling updates from Ofsted.

Read the latest DfE guidance (Updated 1st April 2020)

Ofsted Coronavirus rolling update (Updated 7th April 2020)

Do all childminders and nurseries have to close?

On Wednesday 18th March 2020, the UK government announced registered early years providers, including childminders, would close from the end of business on Friday 20th March 2020 until further notice. A similar annoucement was made by the Scottish government on 19th March 2020.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. The government have stated that early years providers, may continue to remain open to care for the children of key workers/critical workers and vulnerable children.

I am a nanny. Can I still go to work even in a 'lock-down'?

There does not appear to have been any specific advice from the government that expressly states that nannies cannot work.  The government have stated that it is acceptable to travel to and from work in instances where it is absolutely impossible for you to work from home.  As nannies are unable to work from home, we assume nannies can continue to work if they wish to do so. However, if at least one parent is at home with their children then it shouldn't be necessary for a nanny to be at work and in accordance with government guidelines on social distancing, it is safer for live-out nannies not to travel to and from work.

Ofsted have stated that nannies on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register should follow government guidance on isolation and discuss this with the family you work for to see if it is appropriate for you to carry on working.

In the case of live-in nannies who stay at the family home and have not mixed with others for a period of time then it may be deemed safe for them to continue to work as long they continue to stay in the family home.

Any nanny who does not feel safe or comfortable continuing to work should speak to their employer. The nanny employer can furlough the nanny under the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which provides up to 80% of the nanny's salary, up to £2500 per month. The employer can voluntarily choose to top this amount up to 100% of the nanny's salary if they wish. No nanny should be forced to continue to work if they do not feel safe to do so.

We recently introduced the idea of a Virtual Nanny which allows a nanny to work from the nanny's own home if the child's parents are working from home. Having a Virtual Nanny is something that nannies and their employers may like to consider.and the idea is already providing very popular.

What is a key worker/critical worker?

The list is quite wide and includes NHS staff, social care workers, school & nursery staff, police officers, court staff, religious staff, journalists, some government staff, delivery workers, supermarket staff, army and MoD, firefighters, prison & probation staff, transport workers, infrastrucure workers such as gas & electricity and some financial services staff.

Can childminders and nurseries provide care if one parent is a key worker?

Yes. If the child has at least one parent who is a key worker then childminders can continue to care for their child.

Am I insured to care for the children of key workers or vulnerable children?

You should be insured to care for the children of key workers, assuming you have an active public liability insurance policy, as the government has stated this is allowed, unless you hear otherwise from your regulator, local authority or insurance company. 

Can childminders and nurseries take on new children of keyworker parents?

Yes. The govermnent has stated you can take on new children if one or more parents are key workers.

What is the definition of vulnerable children?

Vulnerable children are those who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

I'm going to struggle financially - will the government help me?

The government have launched a number of schemes to help childcare providers with financial support::

Self-employment Income Support Scheme - The government have announced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme for self-employed registered childminders.  A financial grant of up to £2500 per month is available to childminders and they may continue to work. The grant pays 80% of average profits over the last 3 years.  Read more about the grant available to childminders

Early Years Funding - If you receive funding for any 2, 3 or 4 year old children with free childcare entitlements then the government have said this will continue to be paid even if children do not attend.

Universal Credit - Self-employed childminders are able to claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.

Mortgage Holidays - If you are struggling to make your mortgage payments then the government has announced a 3 month mortgage holiday. Most major banks and building societies are participating in the scheme. Contact your lender for more details.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - If you employ staff that you would need to make redundant due to Coronavirus, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Income Tax -  Any income tax due from your self-assessment on 31st July 2020 will now be deferred until 31st January 2021.

VAT - If you are VAT registered then payment of any VAT between 20th March 2020 and 30th June 2020 will be deferred until 31st January 2021.

SSP - If you employ staff then you will be able reclaim up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 per eligible employee.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - Self-employed individuals that are unable to work due to COVID-19 or those that have to self-isolate can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This benefit is payable from day one of sickness and is based upon previous national insurance contributions.

Business Rates - If you are a nursery that pays business rates then there will be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme - There will be a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with the government guaranteeing 80% of each loan.

Ofsted Renewal Fees - Ofsted have said that all invoices for annual registration fees for childminders and early years providers sent after 3rd April will be dated 30th September 2020 to give providers more time to pay.

Can I still charge my parents?

It will depend upon your contract with your parents but generally you wouldn't be able to charge fees if you are unable to provide childcare. Some parents are willing to pay full or half fees for a period of time in order for you to hold their places but this would be something you would have to negotiate with your parents.

Can a nanny be furloughed?

The government have now expressly stated that nannies can be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The government have stated that Individuals can furlough employees such as nannies provided they pay them through PAYE and they were on their payroll on, or before, 28 February 2020.

I'm due to be inspected soon - what will happen?

Ofsted have stated that routine inspections will be temporarily suspended.

Are there any ways around this for childminders?

The forced closure of registered early years settings has led to an increase in unregistered individuals offering childcare which is a very serious worry

There has been no apparent restriction on nannies working for families in the family home or on unregistered childminders caring for children over 8 years of age in the carers home.

Many registered childminders have been looking to increase the number of key worker children they are caring for in order to counteract the lost income from regular parents.

Other childminders who do not have any children from key workers have been exploring working as nanny in the home of an existing family whose child that they have been caring for. A safer option is for a childminder to work as a Virtual Nanny.

The safest thing for everyone to do is to stay at home. 

What about private tutors?

Whilst there has been no specific guidelines in relation to private tutors, the vast majority of private tutors are continuing to work remotely as Virtual Tutors and there has been an increase in demand for virtual tutors with schools being closed.

Will my insurance help me?

Generally there is little or no cover available for such an unprecedented situation of this scale with standard childminder insurance policies.

Some policies may provide cover if Covid-19 has been discovered at your premises. We are currently speaking to our insurance advisers, Jelf, and our insurers, Markel, are working hard to put together information required for any of our members who may need advice following closure of a childcare setting that prevents them from being able to work and we will make further announcements in due course.

My first aid course has been cancelled - can I continue to work?

Ofsted have said that they recognise that first aid courses will get cancelled. The Health & Safety Executive have stated that if you hold a first aid certificate that expires on or after 16 March 2020 and cannot access requalification training because of coronavirus you may qualify for a 3-month extension. We advise you to keep a record of any first aid training booking and the cancellation.

Stay Updated

We will post new updates in for childcare providers about Coronavirus on this page of our website. Please check by regularly for the latest news.

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