View Full Version : Retainer fee & pregnancy? Parent enquiry

01-02-2013, 08:11 AM
Hi! I was hoping to get advice, I paid 5 months retainer fee to childminder and then she told me she was pregnant. She is keeping my child on but has decided to take 6 weeks off without providing cover.

I have had to take 2 weeks off work so has my partner had to take 2 weeks and then organised for my LO to go to a private nursery (which is far more expensive than what the childminder is) for two weeks. I was wondering where I stand in all this as seems a little unfair?

Any advice would be much appreciated thank you :) x

01-02-2013, 09:20 AM
Hmmm, tricky. I guess a lot depends on the contract - and a certain amount of goodwill might not go amiss. Please note I am not a legal expert, so what follows are just my ideas/ramblings and should not be taken as statement of fact or advice. And everything is subject to what's agreed in the contract anyway.

Strictly speaking, a retainer is paid to hold a place open for a child whilst the setting is open. So if the setting is closed, there's not necessarily any cause to charge a retainer.

If your contract includes a holiday period for the childminder (CM) then she should be entitled to take that to cover her maternity needs. Debatable whether or not a retainer would be payable during a holiday closure period.

I would guess that you are probably not entitled to any consequential loss: ie. for the additional costs you may incur - eg. nursery charges.

I do think it would be wise to begin your relationship with a degree of compassion and humanity, even if her pregnancy is a practical nuisance to you. As a self-employed person she will get no maternity pay and probably no benefits. If she can live for 6 weeks with no income then she's far better off than any CMs I know. From an entirely practical point of view, it won't help you if she goes out of business and has to look for other employment instead. Nor will it be good to stress out someone and see them in a financial pickle then expect them to be in a good place to care for your most precious.

If I were in your CM's position (a biological impossibility, but never mind) and I felt the client were pushing too hard at a difficult time, I'd be minded to give sufficient notice and cancel the contract before it begins.

This is not advice, just a few things that might be worth bearing in mind. I do hope you work it out to everyone's satisfaction. The one bit of advice I will always give: talk to your childminder. :)

01-02-2013, 09:29 AM
Has your child now started with the childminder and was the retainer fee to cover the period before they started, or are you still paying a retainer and the care has not yet commenced? Did your childminder give you much notice of her intention to take 6 weeks maternity leave?

It would help if you could expand on the timescales a little ie. when you started paying a retainer, when your care started, when you found out the cm was pregnant, when she started, or is due to start, maternity leave.

01-02-2013, 04:55 PM
It sounds like your child has already started with the Childminder and probably will be there for a few months before the 6 weeks Mat Leave starts (unless she was 3-4 mths pregnant when you signed contracts)?

The retainer you paid was to cover 5 months when she could have been working, but reserved a space for your child (at half fees I assume?) instead - so you had peace of mind and she lost the half-fees for those months. Its unfortunate for you that she now needs to take Mat Leave, but at the end of the day she has her own life and you can't expect her not to have a child to suit you.

For the sake of the long-term relationship then you need to accept the situation with good grace if you can - you must have really liked the CM to pay a retainer for 5 months, so try to remember that. The only alternative would be to withdraw from the contract, but you wouldn't be able to ask for your retainer back, because she did save the space for you.