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Fees on Public Holidays and when the Service is Closed

© ChildForum  

closed signThe courts and most people generally view it as being illegal to charge for a good or service that is not provided by the supplier.   

However early childhood service providers may inform parents that fees will still payable on days normally booked but when the service is closed and require parents to agree to this as part of enrolment of the child. 

 

Parent Reaction

Most parents ChildForum has talked to have said they do not agree with early childhood providers charging for care when they are not providing it. They view providers who do this as being greedy (which is not a good image to be giving for our sector).

 

Who seems to be most affected

Parents who are required to pay for care that is not provided because the service is closed, effectively subside the families of children regularly booked in on other days of the week that are not public holidays. 

Charging for care not provided especially impacts on low-income families, unemployed parents, self-employed parents, and casual workers.

 

Implications and recommendation

If the parent has not signed an agreement for the child to attend on a specific public holiday, or to pay for a specific day when the service is closed, then charges may be disputed.  

ChildForum suggests that ECE services review their fees policy regarding Statutory holiday charging and treatment of public holidays. 

It is best practice for services to deduct from the regular weekly/fortnightly/or monthly/or term fee invoice the amount applicable for days closed. (See comments below for other ideas/practices that ECE services have).  

A practice of some services that have a fixed weekly charge is to offer to families days in lieu, which can be taken when the child is not normally booked to attend and the service is open.  A reason for this is that it reduces the hassle to families of changing automatic payment amounts. However, offering days in lieu may not be viewed as a realistic alternative by families if their child normally attends 5 days a week. 

 

The Ministry of Education's position on this 

The Ministry of Education does not provide funding to services on public holidays when closed.  A statutory holiday is a statutory holiday. 

However the Ministry does not influence what early childhood services can charge families and does not stop services from asking parents to continue to pay fees when closed for a holiday. 

In its sample enrolment form the Ministry of Education advises all services that are open on public holidays to ask parents to confirm enrolment for each individual public holiday.  

[insert name of service] is open on the following public holidays if they fall on a weekday. Please tick the days you wish your child to be specifically enrolled for:   

  • New Years Day
  • Day after New Years Day
  • Local Anniversary Day
  • Waitangi Day
  • Easter Monday
  • Good Friday
  • ANZAC Day
  • Queen's Birthday
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

Should a parent/family not indicate (or not be asked to indicate) on the enrolment form that the child will be attending on a specific public holiday - the family has a right to question being charged fees for this day/s.   

On public holidays an ECE service is not permitted by the Ministry of Education to charge fees for the hours that would normally be 20 Hours ECE funding:

"If a child was enrolled for a public holiday and those hours were attested as 20 Hours ECE - no fees can be charged. The funding rates for 20 Hours ECE already take into account costs incurred by services on public holidays." (Source Ministry of Education Q&A on 20 Hour funding)

The funding conditions for services to claim 30 Hour Funding from the Ministry of Education are as follows:

  • Funding can only be claimed if the service is open on the day the public holiday is observed.
  • If the service is open, funding may be claimed for children who attend the service on that day or who are enrolled to attend on that specific public holiday.
  • These are some examples:
    • Children enrolled on Mondays are not automatically enrolled on Labour Day unless Labour Day is specifically cited in their enrolment agreement.
    • Children enrolled on Fridays are not automatically enrolled on Good Friday unless Good Friday is specifically cited in their enrolment agreement
    • Children enrolled on Mondays are not automatically enrolled on your region's anniversary day holiday unless the anniversary day holiday is specifically cited in their enrolment agreement. Please note some regional anniversary days occur on a Friday. If this is the case the same rule will apply.

 

Comments previously added

Not charging would be fine if it were not law that all staff be PAID on Statutory days - thereby making a public holiday an expense for Centre Owners. A very difficult situation but I am sure that working parents that have the stat holiday off, still get their pay for that day? I think they forget about that. (G. Staver)

Hi, if I am your lawn mower and mow your lawns every Monday, but Monday is Labour Day, would you be okay for me to invoice you even if I don't mow them because Monday is when I usually do them? Public holiday charges should be built into the centres daily rate. It should be a simple procedure. There are generally a set amount of public holidays per year, it wouldn't be a difficult calculation. (Becky Thompson)

Yes working parents DO get there stat holiday off, paid by the BUSINESS they work for. (Abagail)

Businesses have to pay for all staff on STAT days. We also pay a weekly higher KIWI Contribution to staff than the government. This equates to a 25% additional expense of our annual salary bill. In my case $57K. We do not receive funding for these days. Please give small business owners some consideration, our country relies on these small business owners to gather tax revenue and employ the majority of our work force. I pay surcharges for stat days and I have always paid for for child care on STAT days. I do not get a "free day on my mortgage payments any rents or services from any company on a stat day. Our centre offers optional school holidays with fees charged only for attendance; that's up to 12 weeks a year with no fees. My parents would rather have this than not having to pay STAT days. (K Fell)

Please give working families some consideration, I pretty much just worked a whole day to pay your employees stat. (Abagail)

I agree with you, parents get paid for not working sat holidays if its their day to work. Teachers get paid stat holidays if its there day to work. If that is the case MOE should be paying for stat days in the funding. (Henry)

I agree with you all. MOE should fund Stat days as staff are still paid by the service provider. A gap here between employment law and MOE that needs consideration. (Amanda)

I concur, everyone gets paid for Stat days and rent/ mortgage etc still need to be paid. As centres don't get funding for Stat days the only way to part cover a centres costs for stat days is to have fees charged, much the same as private schools charge their fees. If MOE funded for stat days then centres could consider a credit for parents. Instead of targeting the centres who have costs for stat days, may MOE need to be lobbied to make changes. (Victoria)

I don't agree about charge for days not open. The centres close at Christmas for 2-3 weeks - When you may get half price or a week free. We don't get to pick the date -it's what ever centre wants. Your kids at home and you still have to work and you end up paying again for another service to cover one not provided. The fees for centres just seem to keep going up and government hours not called 20 Hour Free any more. It is hard to find a centre that gives 20 hours daycare for free. Our child has just turned 3 and now centre claims 20 Hour ECE funding, cost for us went down by about $20 but the centre now gets about $90 more as its keeping most of the ECE funding difference and not passing it on to parents even though child has poorer teacher ratio. The ECE and charges for days not open are just ways to hide extra fees. We don't get charged more if a teacher gets sick and extra staff needed. Its just part of over head of running a business. So should not charging for days not open. Would you book a holiday in a hotel where your where not allowed stay in the bed or allowed the breakfast paid for on days that where public holidays? (Darrell)

When it comes down to it ethically you should not charge for a service that's not being provided! Employee stat payments should be considered from the profit margins not from the clients directly. And there are so many other restrictions - I pay for 11 hours a day and only use 6. My ECE subsidy is spread out over the 11 of course so the discount becomes negligible. 2 weeks holidays a year at half price so while my 4 year old stays home with his 5 year old sister during school holidays I pay approx. $1000 in fees for nothing. It is greed. There should be laws as to how a centre can operate. I'm sure there will always be different pricing structures based on quality of service etc but at least then parents can make financial decisions based on their actual daycare needs. (Michelle)

$1000??? you need to find another centre!!! ( Jojo)

Can anybody tell me if my child goes 4 half days to daycare and on Monday was a public holiday, does it mean he can go on Friday instead of Monday? (Genny)

Hi Genny, This is a good question. Thank you. Usually only on the days of the week that your child is booked in for can your child attend. So if your regular booking is for Mon - Thurs then your child won't be able to attend Friday. Services usually don't do make-up days. But we are interested to hear from any centres that do offer make-up days. (ChildForum admin)

The Centre I work at offers make up days to cover a public holiday if we have the space available - lets face it we get no funding from the Ministry for a public holiday so if we can claim it somewhere else that week all to the good. As far as charging when a Centre isn't even open I agree this is morally wrong - owners/managers know when public holiday's/annual shut downs are and should factor it into budgets - like going to a McDonald's and paying for a burger you're not given - it's not right. (Kim Quirke)

We charge for public holidays (stated in the enrolment form but do offer a makeup day if we have space available to do so (within our maximum allowed number). We don't get any extra revenue for this as usually only can happen if a child is away so no extra funding - it is for our families. Most people that would like one get one although we don't 'bank' them - they have to be used within a couple of weeks. The admin for this is already a lot - especially for our 20 hours children. Full time enrolments can’t make use of this but the fee structure is arranged so that each extra day you enrol is cheaper so they are paying less per day than part time families. I think it is important to look at the big picture. if centres don't charge for stats, the regular price per week would probably increase. Of course there are centres who are purely driven by profit but there are also many of us that try really hard to balance the 'business' side of things and do what we can for our families but it does come down to income vs expenditure. If there were no 'businesses' operating centres we wouldn't have early childhood available - smaller centres are being more affected by the governments 'funding cuts by stealth' as we don't have the economies of scale and many are doing what we can to limit fee increases to families while still running a viable business and maintaining quality for our children. (Diane)

I think that coping with stat days are part of running a business. Daycares that provide food include that charge within the daily rate. They include staff wages and rent / mortgage / electricity / consumables and profit within the daily rate. Why on earth are operating costs on public holidays not included in this daily rate? I am a contractor and I cannot work public holidays AND my children cannot attend daycare because it is not open then I am out of pocket twice. It’s not fair to charge for a service not offered. If I mowed your lawns or cleaned your house every Friday but didn't because it was a public holiday, would you be happy for me to invoice you for it anyway? No, you would be paying for a service not provided... I would much rather pay a highly daily rate and have Stat days incorporated than feel ripped off having to pay for something I am not getting. This system has to change. Regardless of the centres having wording regarding having to pay for public holidays, parents don't feel like they can complain. A good daycare is hard to find and waiting lists can be up to 2 years long, so parents do not feel like they can complain for fear of risking their child's placement. Parents are left feeling like daycares are purely greedy and it’s not a good look for any business. (Becky Thompson)

The daycare centre where my girl goes have chosen to close the for Xmas from 23 Dec 2015 to 10 Jan 2016. This forces me to take annual leave just for my girls care. I understand about the stat holiday but what about the other regular working days in between and I have to pay full amount for no service. Another concern is why this is not mentioned on the agreement form. The manager only informed us verbally. I like to have some clarification if this is normal. (Anji)

Regarding make-up days, we do offer them whenever possible. We see it as good PR. They do depend on space and availability on the day of course. (Jen)

Let us not stray from the fact that these educational facilities are a business for profit. Don't get me wrong, they provide a much needed service, without them many of us would struggle to hold down full time jobs. The teachers/carers are employees in said business, Also not their fault that they are employed by a business that does not account in their profits for paid stat holidays to their employees. Is this the only business that does this? Maybe the government should provide a supplement benefit for those employees in this type of industry so that small business owners can cope since profit margins are so tight, and not pack up shop knowing this business is just not profitable enough, leaving us working families out of the much needed service. But alas, let us not stray from the true fact..... We are paying a business our hard earned money and receiving absolutely nothing in return. Wait, that fact isn't entirely true, considering if I don't pay for a service I don't receive, my child cannot return to his day care, so at the very least, I have an actual placeholder. (Abagail) 

 

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