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Did not read childminding contract and now it seems that we are tied into it forever!

Discussion in 'Personal' started by delmamerchant, May 26, 2018.

  1. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    We are ending our childminding contract and yes, we were silly but we have read the contract and note that it says we cannot terminate the contract before or during the main school holidays and we signed it!

    We are confused as the childminder is term time only and we pay her a retainer during the main school holidays. so why we we pay a retainer if we are not returning?

    Reading this sounds as if we can never give notice.

    Help please!
  2. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I doubt that they'd be able to legally enforce something so ambiguous. I assume that they intended it to be similar to teachers' contracts where you resign before a half term holiday to leave at the end of the main holiday after that term?
    delmamerchant likes this.
  3. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    I don't think they could enforce the retainer for the holiday if you are not returning, but yes it was probably written similar to school contracts.

    You would need to give notice though so have a word with the childminder, and see if you can negotiate.
  4. emerald52

    emerald52 Star commenter

    Because like you she is owed her holiday pay. I think she has made it clear and you should pay up.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Can't be much of a warm childminding rapport if you need to ask us instead of the actual childminder,

    We've had varying experiences with childminders over the years, and the only one we found tricky was one who had all sorts of clauses such as this in their contract. The subtext was that they wanted as much as they could get in return for doing as little as possible (who doesn't...), stalwartly one of a nation of shopkeepers.
    If you cannot agree on the contract, however you decide to calculate your final pay,at least they don't have the dreaded strangle hold over you of leaving you in the lurch through having no other options.
    Talk to them.
    And if they really insist you pay for the holidays then, heck, you've got some childcare if you fancy a nice day out without kid.
    Watch their face fall when you book it in.
    delmamerchant and LunaBlue123 like this.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Well that's certainly one side of it.
    The other side is that the payment over the holidays is called "a retainer". If you ask a childminder why they have a retainer, you'll be told "it is so that I do not allow another child to have that place"

    I have to say, my views are possibly tainted by experiencing a truly dreadful childminder some years ago who completely messed with both of us, our minds and our child, and all to do with the business of unfairly extracting money rather than the business of childminding for a fee.
  7. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    It is just badly written; I suspect it means immediately before or during school holidays. Have you told the childminder you intend to stop? Its not clear from your post.
    I would inform childminder that you have no need of the service anymore from such-and-such a date, ask if she would like it in writing and ask when she would like final payment. Do it face-to-face and mention the contract at all.
  8. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    If the contract does not specify a means of termination then there are none and you can terminate the contract any time without notice or any further payment. You can hardly be sued for breaching the terms of a contract that don't exist.

    The prohibition in the contract would probably be considered unfair but this would need to be tested in court and I wouldn't like to say which way it would go. However, the if fact is that the contract doesn't have a specific termination procedure then it would help in this regard. Also courts have shown that they are very willing to discard terms in contracts that they consider to be unfair.

    I think the key is what the contract says about how you can terminate the contract.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I don't share your conviction that courts would probably consider it unfair. There's nothing obviously unfair about it at all. It's reasonable for the childminder to want to ensure all places are taken up for September and that's hard to do if you cancel your contract in August.
  10. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    But that doesn’t seem to be the OP’s issue; his/her interpretation of the contract being ‘as if we can never give notice‘ which I doubt it does and indeed would be unfair.
  11. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    You are not employing them though, you are buying a service so there is no requirement to pay them holiday pay.

    Yes it's badly worded as any date could be considered before the main school holiday. If you gave notice now that she wouldn't be needed in September it is more than adequate (3 months). As @Rott Weiler says, it is there to reduce the chance of being left in the lurch, so someone giving little notice. The contract would also mean that she also wouldn't be able to withdraw her services at short notice around, or during, the main school holiday.

    I would, as others have suggested, speak to them and explain that you won't need their service from the end of this next half term. I wouldn't expect it to be a problem
    knitone and delmamerchant like this.
  12. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Definitely fair point which is why I put in the proviso. I think it would come down to context.

    I understand the point but that's the way it goes, it's part of the business model. It is not necessarily fair to bind your customers just to solve this problem. It might be possible to argue that unless this term was specifically pointed out at the point the contract was signed, it might be considered unfair.

    The first point of contact should be negotiation, and then, if they think it needs to go further, seek expert advice. (Don't rely upon people like us on a forum) Legal cover that comes with house insurance might cover that.
  13. smilingisgoodforyou

    smilingisgoodforyou Occasional commenter

    Learn from this-never sign anything unless you have read the small print. I hope you get it sorted.
  14. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    Nothing ambiguous about it. If you sign a contract you are deemed to have accepted its terms, even if you didn't bother to read them.

    Unfortunately this is a case of more fool the OP. Next time she'll read the detail before agreeing to it.
    border_walker likes this.
  15. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    We fully intend to give notice but it reads as if you can never give notice without the possibility of some sort of penalty. the fact that that we pay half fees during the school holidays to retain a place, suggest that as we are not retaining a place then we should not have to pay.
  16. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Umm, what do you mean? Like me she is owned holiday pay? First of all she only works term times - which is a choice that she has made, not a specific arrangement with us. Secondly, we pay half during the holidays between terms to retain a place - not holiday pay. Therefore, if we fare not retaining a place, it seems logical that we should not pay. Third, childminders are self employed, what other self employed person do you know that gets paid whilst they are not working? So I am not really sure what your point is.
  17. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    WE fully intend to give notice, it would be unreasonable not to.
  18. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    We pay half for the holidays but she is to available to work - it is simply to retain the place.
  19. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Re the relationship, she was very good at the start but as time went on, we found that she became a bit of a dictator and ignored anything that we asked her to do.
  20. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    To be honest, I respect everyone who works for a living but as you say it is a retainer, so if we are not retaining her services - and we give sufficient notice from now, them we should not have to pay a retainer.

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