Morton Michel Contract
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    Default Morton Michel Contract

    Hi all. Are the Morton Michel contracts three pages long or five? I'm confused as my friend's are 3, but the website says 5. Also, where do I alter them to specify term-time e.g. if either side gives notice, say in July, then the summer holidays don't count as notice. Or is this unreasonable?

    Any suggestions welcome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cantianella View Post
    Hi all. Are the Morton Michel contracts three pages long or five? I'm confused as my friend's are 3, but the website says 5. Also, where do I alter them to specify term-time e.g. if either side gives notice, say in July, then the summer holidays don't count as notice. Or is this unreasonable?

    Any suggestions welcome.
    If your contract stationery lacks the space for additional terms, the simplest solution is to add a continuation sheet. Both parties must sign and date it, and the main contract should state that the continuation sheet forms part of the contract. Before doing this, you absolutely must check any additional content with your insurer and make sure your insurer is happy with this method.

    TBH I have grave reservations about this sort of 'holiday notice' clause. It's a weird quirk of the childcare industry that CMs continue to believe they can get away with this 'free money' clause with no repercussions. At best, you'll be able to use it once, against a naive client, or one who can't afford to get a solicitor in to challenge it. That client will then let every mum within 5 miles know that she's been "ripped off". Because, if any other service provider did it to you, me or any other sensible person, we'd react in precisely the same way.

    Is it unreasonable? Yes, it probably is unreasonable. Occasional threads on mumsie-message boards seem to show parents who challenge the clause frequently win if they take legal advice and are prepared to go the whole way. Bear in mind that a court can overrule a contract if the terms are judged to be "unconscionable", i.e. unreasonable.

    It boils down to the purpose of any notice period, which is to give either party reasonable time to replace a CM/client if the other leaves. If they left and refuse to pay, you have to try to fill the place anyway before pursuing the 'debt', since a court would require you to prove you've taken steps to mitigate your loss.

    Remember that contracts cut both ways. I can think of numerous scenarios in which this could come back to haunt you. I know a number of CM s who've regretted invoking their holiday notice terms.

    I can't think of any other business or contract arrangement in which a signatory would try to 'stretch' a notice period beyond a plain, honest 'calendar weeks' period. AFAIC it would ring alarm bells and put me or any sensible person off completely.

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    That's a very good contract template on childcare.co.uk Sarah. I Use my own contracts and it's not as good as that one.

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    I used Morton michel insurance, but none of their stationary.
    I used my online software stationary template which is similar to childcare, lots of area to make it specific to you.
    I agree with your thoughts Bunyip on notice time, childminders seem to get away with lots of things, being paid for a holiday is another peculiararity that most self employed businesses do not have.
    Four weeks notice is what it is, regardless of when it is given...on either side....but in some areas I believe you can have the not in holiday time notice and holidays paid for because childminders are like gold and parents sometimes will agree to anything to sign up with one they really like and argue about the small print of contracts if and when.

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    Do childminders charge when they are on holiday? Something I wouldn't dream of. If I am not open to work I don't charge after all I'm self employed. I don't use anyone's contracts and over 20 years never have so haven't seen the clauses your speakers no off.

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    Also I'm with Morton michel but don't use anyone's stationary too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonfly View Post
    Do childminders charge when they are on holiday? Something I wouldn't dream of. If I am not open to work I don't charge after all I'm self employed. I don't use anyone's contracts and over 20 years never have so haven't seen the clauses your speakers no off.
    IIUC the OP isn't talking about charging for holiday closures. I think it's the rather contentious issue of notice periods spanning the school holidays: i.e. school holidays don't count towards a notice period. So, for example, if a client gives four weeks notice a week before the start school summer holidays, the notice period is supposed to include the last week of term, plus the first three weeks of the following term, starting September.

    Yes, I know, it's weird and I can't think of any other business where traders try anything similar on. I think it's bad practice and on dodgy ground from a legal point of view. I know a couple of CMs who've had it backfire on them: rather badly in one case.

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    Oh I see. Yes, that is weired.in fact very weired!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bunyip View Post
    IIUC the OP isn't talking about charging for holiday closures. I think it's the rather contentious issue of notice periods spanning the school holidays: i.e. school holidays don't count towards a notice period. So, for example, if a client gives four weeks notice a week before the start school summer holidays, the notice period is supposed to include the last week of term, plus the first three weeks of the following term, starting September.

    Yes, I know, it's weird and I can't think of any other business where traders try anything similar on. I think it's bad practice and on dodgy ground from a legal point of view. I know a couple of CMs who've had it backfire on them: rather badly in one case.
    My way of looking at it is that with a term time only contract, school holidays are not the child taking a holiday. They are still contracted days but days that have no fee attached to them as that is what has been agreed. The client isn't taking a holiday, they are still following the contract, ie. the child won't be attending and there is no fee charged. Even if you stipulated that the notice period had to cover 4 paid weeks, I still don't think parents should pay. The fee for school holidays is zero, which is what parents will pay.

    I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else! I know what I mean but don't think I've explained it very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse View Post
    My way of looking at it is that with a term time only contract, school holidays are not the child taking a holiday. They are still contracted days but days that have no fee attached to them as that is what has been agreed. The client isn't taking a holiday, they are still following the contract, ie. the child won't be attending and there is no fee charged. Even if you stipulated that the notice period had to cover 4 paid weeks, I still don't think parents should pay. The fee for school holidays is zero, which is what parents will pay.

    I don't know if that makes sense to anyone else! I know what I mean but don't think I've explained it very well.
    Yes, I think you've made an admirable job of explaining it.

    I suspect the situation has come about from two causes.

    First, a common misinterpretation of a clause in Pacey contracts. It states that notice must not be given while the other party is on holiday. But this is an entirely different thing from not counting the school holidays as a notice period.

    Also, some CMs have adopted the notion that they deserve to be paid for the notice period, even if the child isn't contracted to attend. They seem to think parents are "cheeky" and "getting off scot-free" by giving notice just before the holidays.

    But the notice period is only there to give us reasonable time to fill the place. It protects us from losing earnings, as we would if the client left in term time without giving notice (but we're not losing anything if the parents don't pay in the holidays anyway.) That's a very simple and clear piece of contract law. The only grey area is whether a contracted 'holiday retainer' would be payable during a notice period. For that reason, I'd say that it is always better not to make any sort of holiday charges: otherwise, charge a higher fee for term-term only clients, to make up the shortfall.
    Last edited by bunyip; 17-08-2017 at 07:02 AM.

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