I have a written contract in which the childminder agrees to look after my children on a Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. My wife and her had a conversation last week about perhaps cancelling the Thursday but we did not agree anything or amend the contract.
We've just given her a list of dates, including Thursday's and she has just replied telling us she has filled our Thursday space and is now unable to look after my children.
I wish to cancel her contract with immediate effect because that is no good to me now. Do I still need to give the 4 weeks stated in her contract if she is actually in breach of it?
In reply to Gibson: just been through the same scenario with my childcare. Unfortunately verbal is as good as black and white and can be held against you (unfair dismissal). You need to box very clever with this matter. I am assuming you have altered her wages taking in to consideration she is no longer working the thursdays? If you need any more info - PM me.
> Do I still need to give the 4 weeks stated in her contract if she is actually in breach of it?
Technically, no you don't, if she has breached the contract. BUT it all comes down to a who said what and her word and against yours about what was said by your wife in the prior conversation (verbal agreements by both parties to alter the contract are just as valid as written ones). Thus the whole thing could get messy, and it may be best to seek a negotiated solution.
In reply to Gibson: This boils down to two interpretations of what was said. There'a always another side here - perhaps she understood it was likely or probable, so found other work as she can't afford not to work Thursday.
Yes, it's difficult for me to know exactly what was said as I wasn't there and obviously I am inclined to believe my wife, but I also understand that there might have been misinterpretation on both sides.
I don't want to get into a legal battle, especially over who said what etc...
In reply to Gibson: yes, not a great relationship to be in with the person you trust to care for your kids.
Sounds like she did not let the grass grow under her feet but the replacement Thursday work probably just cropped up at the right (wrong) time and was difficult to refuse. The chances of filling the space later may have been slim.
I would have to react quickly at the prospect of losing a fifth of my income.
An unfortunate situation but it sounds like it has been caused by the context of the conversation between her and your wife.
You could obviously give notice to quit and not breach the contract yourself and she may decide she would rather have your 2 days over the Thursday with the other child.
> ... I also understand that there might have been misinterpretation on both sides.
Thinking about this, you should probably accept some fault on your side (for having raised the Thursday issue when it wasn't certain) and give the benefit of the doubt to the childminder. Afterall, if the previous conversation about Thursdays wasn't advice to her to start looking for alternatives for Thursday then what was it? It's entirely understandable that she interpreted it that way so it's hard to fault her.
Yes that would probably be the easiest option but I'm not really inclined to give her a full months pay while employing another childminder.
I'm really pissed that she has filled our space on the premise that we were definitely not going to need it, which was not the conversation that I understand was had. She has effectively left us in the lurch, without childcare on the days that we need her, as stated in her contract.
Am I being unreasonable?
In reply to Gibson:
Presumably, if the childminder has taken it that she is no longer employed by you on Thursdays and has arranged alternative work so she can't work for you on 1 day of the 3 every week, the notice you pay her should be based around 2/3 of what you used to pay her.
Don't get too hung up on the legalities of all of it. If you were to quit without notice she COULD bring you to small claims court to try and claim some of the money she would have earned from you during the notice period. IF that happened the district judge might side with you or might side with her. Either way it isn't going to bankrupt either of you.
A better approach is to follow your own moral compass and do what you think is right. The fact you are posting this for advice suggests that your instinct is telling you not to quit without giving notice, and if that's the case I'd say your first reaction is usually a pretty helpful litmus test.
I think your wife and or you are spitting the dummy out because you expected the child minder to meekly accept the reduced hours and still be there if you changed your minds. Which is not fair IMO
I imagine that the employer holds most of the cards in this situation, the hours are probably short and pay low so you'd expect the minder to be grateful for what hours they get, i beleive it is quite a competetive market and of course future employability depends strongly on references.
Just because you could screw her over doesn't mean you should, just for the sake of your vanity
I don't see why you can't sort this out amicably, with a little understanding and compromise.
Whatever happens, perhaps its fair to your children to have a 'change over' time, not immediately find them another child minder they are with for 3 days a week. A good childminder is a substitute parent for the time they are with them (I have been called 'mum' often, but also both the names of the child minders). We have been lucky that both of our children have very good relationships with both childminders we have used, but they are pretty upset that they no longer see one of them (she has moved areas), and would like to visit her at some point. She would like to see them too.
You may find that finding a child minder for one day a week actually easier than finding one with space for 3 days, at least initially, so different child minders on different days might actually be a possibility and in the short term advantageous to the kids.
There was a possibility their requirements would change so had the courtesy to have an informal discussion so the child minder was aware. From what the OP has said there it was never confirmed the days would change and they would let her know if it were to come about.
The child minder then arbitrarily cancelled the contracted days and took on other work in it's place. She should have had the courtesy to make a phone call to the OP to advise them that she had the opportunity to fill their slot should they not need it, BEFORE confirming it with her new clients.
With a little reciprocal communication from the child minder the whole situation could have been avoided.
In reply to fil: Maybe. There is air in the posts though of the OP being stunned that someone on presumably crappy wages with little job security could possible inconvenience him and his children by not giving plenty of warning that they will be cancelling Thursdays after a discussion hinting that in due course their services wouldn't be needed then anyway.
In reply to Gibson:
Having been through various experiences with child minders I have learnt not to mess around with the good ones. The good ones are well known amongst parents and if the minder is good she/he will have a waiting list as long as your arm.It sounds as though your curent one is in that category if they were able to fill up the place straight away.
You now need ot be careful that the childminder does not bad mouth you to others in your local circle ( even if you were right).
Getting the right childminder is an art of diplomacy. Get it wrong and it's hell.
In reply to Gibson: UKC advice, about as good as the paper its written on. If you dont like her, sack her. I doubt they'll be much comeback from it. Although if she takes you to court for it, it'd be worth going, just for the lolz.
In reply to Gibson: You're not going to like this, but you'd better find out exactly what your wife said to her as she seems to have taken it onboard to find new work for that day post haste.
I can see it's inconveniant, and annoying (and have previous experience) but given the speed this has happened I would suspect the childminder got more that a slight hint that this might possibly happen at some point in the unknown future.
On the other foot you'd contracted her for Thursdays - would you have continued to pay Thursdays while she looked for new work? This is not black and white
> (In reply to Gibson)
> So you verbally tell her that she is no longer required on Thursday and then complain when she finds alternative work for that day?
My wife childminds, and we get this a lot, we often get people asking if we have a space, and we say no, only to get notice from a parent that they have been 'thinking about things for a while' and have decided they can do with a day or two less. If they had just given us notice (of their 'thinking') we could have made another arrangement, but are often out of pocket on these occasions.
They seem to have given notice, but had not been very specific, so it is something that I can see from both sides. It would be a pity to change the kids minder, if they are happy there, and who is to say that the next childminder will be any better.
If the parents have moved around a lot the childminders get wary, if they are registered they will be in touch with each other, attend training courses together, and share 'intellegence; with other minders on parents, so they could end up finding no one wants to take them on.
In reply to Gibson: Working Wed, Thur and Fri vs a list of dates. Can you elaborate on this. Sounds like she has said no because she can work elsewhere every thur instead of a list of days(not every thur).
Ok, I understand that she is on a low wage with uncertainty etc, and I'm not trying to rip the piss.
Philip - I give her a list of dates because sometimes we don't need her on a particular day and she will only charge half the fee if the kids aren't there.
MG - I am stunned because crappy wages or not, I have a contract with this person and I expect it to be obligated, just as I wouldn't terminate without notice etc, as it states I need to give 4 weeks. Is that too much expectation on my part?
I did leave out one vital detail as I didn't want anyone casting aspersions on my post...
My oldest boy had a bad morning with her and was quite disruptive. She emailed us that night with a scathing review of his behaviour and said that if it happened again, she would be forced to give us notice. The email was pretty harsh considering we're dealing with a 4 year old. He can be a little shit at times so I empathised fully but I didn't appreciate her wording and I wished she had just picked up the phone to try and discuss. Call me cynical but I feel that she just doesn't want to watch them now and is giving me reason to go elsewhere.
wbo - Yes, I pay her whether or not we need her on a particular day, half of her hourly rate.
In reply to Gibson: Potentially handing in her notice if your 4 year old child is being disruptive? Sounds unprofessional and incapable to me. As for crappy wages,or as I found - utter greed, childcare has bled me dry (it is not that bad). In most cases parents are effectively held to ransom by people claiming to be dedicated and willing to assist in the welfare and upbringing of children. If the lady in question is struggling to deal with a minor being desruptive, well she chose her field - cope with it.
In reply to Karl087: Yes, that's what I thought too. I was prepared to work with her and try and come to some agreement with regards to discipline etc, but this just feels like she's not interested and would rather do without the hassle.
And I thought nurseries were bad!
In reply to Karl087: Alternatively if a professional child minder is concerned about a disruptive 4 year old (and the parent is obviously convinced that they are completely in the right) it may be that the child is reflecting the parent's attitude.
Which would be my guess. I've had 3 kids, and 1 complaint from a child minder, (albeit on holiday - 'Sam's had a tough day' when he was 2 years old , at a ski resort) and we immediately assumed it was our problem, took him away and looked after him ourselves.
Child minders don't need and aren't paid enough to look after pains in the ar$e.
In reply to Gibson: Rob, if you have only had one 'problem' in all these years with 3 children - please do share your secret with all interested parties to this post. I for one am intrigued. We are all wired differently and undoubtedly performed disruptively, in some guise, at some point in our childhood. To receive communication, via the 'fire and forget' means is somewhat shallow, especially where children are concerned. I have 4 children and have found some childcare counter-productive over the years. One key area, I have found, is lack of dynamics to situation. Yes 'wee jonnie' may have had a bad day, but that (I am afraid) is part and parcel of the trade.
> Ok, I understand that she is on a low wage with uncertainty etc, and I'm not trying to rip the piss.
> Philip - I give her a list of dates because sometimes we don't need her on a particular day and she will only charge half the fee if the kids aren't there.
> MG - I am stunned because crappy wages or not, I have a contract with this person and I expect it to be obligated, just as I wouldn't terminate without notice etc, as it states I need to give 4 weeks. Is that too much expectation on my part?
> I did leave out one vital detail as I didn't want anyone casting aspersions on my post...
> My oldest boy had a bad morning with her and was quite disruptive. She emailed us that night with a scathing review of his behaviour and said that if it happened again, she would be forced to give us notice. The email was pretty harsh considering we're dealing with a 4 year old. He can be a little shit at times so I empathised fully but I didn't appreciate her wording and I wished she had just picked up the phone to try and discuss. Call me cynical but I feel that she just doesn't want to watch them now and is giving me reason to go elsewhere.
> wbo - Yes, I pay her whether or not we need her on a particular day, half of her hourly rate.
If you need(and want) her to do Thursday again, I guess you could talk about het going back to doing Thursdays again in a month or two time, so she and the other people can have enough notice to change?
If it's possible a misunderstanding happened, and verbal agreements are definitely legally binding, I don't suppose there's much you can do?
> (In reply to Gibson) Potentially handing in her notice if your 4 year old child is being disruptive? Sounds unprofessional and incapable to me. As for crappy wages,or as I found - utter greed, childcare has bled me dry (it is not that bad). In most cases parents are effectively held to ransom by people claiming to be dedicated and willing to assist in the welfare and upbringing of children. If the lady in question is struggling to deal with a minor being desruptive, well she chose her field - cope with it.
Some parents , alas, don't have sensible boundaries, for their children, and that could be the childminders problem too, but then parents should be able to control their child , and not drop off a child that is used to getting their own way on everything, it is not fair on everyone concerned,including the child.
I also don't recognise the description of childminders above, and I would be most interested to hear what the hourly rate is, that is seen as excessive ? ( I would be surprised if it is more than a living wage, and often less)
My wife tends to become , and stay friends with many of the mothers , and often the children, too, long after they have moved on to school, and ( showing our age ) into adulthood.
The relationships described above sound like they need professional help.
> Which would be my guess. I've had 3 kids, and 1 complaint from a child minder, (albeit on holiday - 'Sam's had a tough day' when he was 2 years old , at a ski resort) and we immediately assumed it was our problem, took him away and looked after him ourselves.
Interesting anecdote, but having 3 (presumably related) children does not make you an expert! All kids are different, and just because you had an easy ride does not make the OP deficient because he has a tough kid.
Whilst missing a days skiing was undoubtedly hard for you, in the real world it is not always possible for parents to give up work for the weeks, months or years that are necessary (in some cases) to deal with disruptive behaviour.
Good childminders will work with parents to deal with behavioural problems, and most will have more success precisely because they do have so much more experience than the average parent.
In reply to RCC: Child minders aren't paid to deal with disruptive children, they are paid to mind children - the clue is in the name. We've had a number of great minders over the years (not everyone would pass today's hygiene and educational standards, mind) and the one thing I can safely say as that none of them were qualified or signed up to be child psychologists.
I think the point I was trying to make was that we perceived Sam's unhappiness as our problem - not theirs. None of this 'they're the professionals, they're paid to do it, we've got a contract' etc etc which is what the OP is implying and may be, I think, part of the problem.
And if people don't want considered and heartfelt advice then they don't have to post, or read it.
OK, that is fair. I agree with that; a child's behaviour is ultimately the parents responsibility, and a childminder can look after whichever children they want. However, a contract is a contract, and unless acceptable behaviour is clearly defined, then the childminder should respect the terms of the contract.
The lesson from the OP seems to be that you shouldn't try to give people any more notice than the minimum required by law. It isn't easy to make work and childcare fit together, and I would be pretty unhappy if someone had bypassed the safeguards we had mutually agreed on (for whatever reason).
In reply to Gibson: Rob, no malice or sniping intended (purely debate and opinion). Your views are welcome as are other parties. Let us all hope the outcome is beneficial to both parent and minder. As alluded to, by most responses, I believe it is miss-interpretation and the moral judgement of communication at fault in this case. If the OP displayed a lack of interest in all concerned, he would not have sought opinion for the wider audience.