Nurseries: Exploiting busy parents?

23 November 2009

Children are little coin vampires aren't they? They always want stuff like toys, cake and basic human rights. Bafflingly, we're not allowed to exploit their abundant stupidity and work them like slaves. Unless paper rounds count?

Even before our little bundles of boke can even talk, they demand to be looked after, regardless of whether you, as an adult (presuming that no right-minded child would want to read this site) feel able to look after yourself in the most rudimentary of ways.

Now, report The Guardian, there are adults imposing massive fines on you poor breeders who have children in nurseries. If you work your arse off to give your child what it needs, and end up being late for whatever perfectly good reason, some childcare centres want to fleece you with some extortionate penalties!

The fines have been put in place to stop parents from exploiting private nurseries as a free "waiting room" for their youngsters when running late. However, if you're already pretty broke, some of the fees can hammer your bank balance and be based on a wild, random system that does not correlate across the board.

Fines can be as high as £50 for each 15 minutes of tardiness and there's a chance that they could be rising even further. At Phoenix House Montessori nursery school in Stamford Hill, London, penalty-fees have increased from £1 a minute to £5 a minute.

While the National Day Nurseries Association suggest that this penalising stops people abusing the system, Netmums online (a community for parents) suggests that nurseries are only doing this to earn easy money.

These charges are put in place to stop persistent offenders, but it seems that first time late-comers get hit with the charge all the same.

It is worth pointing out that some nurseries don't charge a bean for late-comers, but as these places tend to be unregulated (by virtue of the fact that they are private businesses), there's nothing to stop them all getting on board with this wild penalising. Surely it's difficult (and expensive) enough raising children?

What do think of nursery late fees?


  • Alex
    Nurseries are a fucking disgrace cost wise anyway. They employ a load of staff, most barely qualified, and they charge you (round here anyway, home counties, 20 minute train ride to London), 60 quid a day per child, with no discount if you're kids aren't there for more than 3 days a week. Our two kids aren't there more than 3 days a week because we can't afford nearly £1,500 a month from our take home pay to send them. Wasn't Labour supposed to be supporting Mum's who went back to work? 3 days a week pro rated from her salary means my missus gives every single penny she earns to the nursery, all so she can keep her hand in at her career until the kids start full time education. Its a joke, and a joke tens of thousands of families aren't laughing at. I'd be lying if I said I knew the exact cost before we had children and the childcare vouchers that Brown wants to abolish do mean we're not out of pocket at the end of the day but its a hard man who basis the decision to have a family on the cost benefit analysis anyway :)
  • Nobby
    Ours charges £40 per hour or part thereof if you are late, even one minute late. They say that if you are late, they need two members of staff to be present. It's just in case one of them is a paedo or something.
  • Graham
    I don't have a child but I can understand the fees. As working people, you don't want to be held back in work for no extra pay - yet the carers will be forced to stay behind after work with no recompense to look after somebody else's kid. Although I do think it should be more discretionary if it is someone's first "offence" I think they are well within their right to impose a fine.
  • Tritonbairn
    Nobby, does that mean tnhat if it looks like you are going to be a couple of minutes late, you may as well go shopping or for a coffee, to get the full use of the hour?
  • Luke
    The late fees are bad enough, but you should look into the policy of charging parents for the privilage of using childcare vouchers!!! For every voucher used, my nursery charge £2.50, apparently due to the complexity of having money land directly in your bank account. Not sure who is to blame for this complicated system, but it costs me £5.00 extra a month to benefit from a quite handy government scheme.
  • Gunn
    Cash making machines these nurseries, I'd like to know how they justify the high rates, it's not like its one on one care for your child.
  • nicola
    sadly it is true that some nurseries do over charge for late pick ups - but not all nurseries do so. The nursery i work in charges £10 for a late pick up, but this is not applied if a parent makes contact with the nursery to inform them that they are running late or if it is the 1st or even 2nd time they are late. I work in a private day nursery, and over heads are high - including the cost of paying for qualified staff - a must if you wish to remain registered with ofsted / cssiw. Charges are in place to encourage parents to collect their children on time, along with paying staff wages who after working a long day on minimum wage have to stay on to continue the care for that child.
  • T
    It's not so much the late fees that bother me if used correctly. Ours charges £1/minute, but have not charged us the couple of times we've been late, so I assume it's there for repeat offenders, which I find fair enough. But I still think running a nursery is a licence to print money. Ours works out the monthly cost by ((daily rate x number of days/week)x52)/12. Which sort of makes sense, however they are closed on bank holidays and for a week over Christmas, so the daily rate isn't really a daily rate as you're paying for days when they are closed, as well as, of course, for days when your young one can't make it. I'm sure they don't pay the staff much, and however much the overheads are I think they are all making a killing. But I guess in the end it's all a question of supply and demand.
  • MM
    late fees are justified to deter parents from taking advantage - but only if a reasonable amount is charged and discretion is used. If no late fees were ever charged, some parents would exploit this to obtain extra childcare for free !
  • David
    You could always skip the whole thing and raise your children yourself I suppose?
  • Guybrush T.
    Fcuk! I'm a teacher and we don't all flee home as soon as the kids leave. There's things like setting up and organising, and meeting and socialising and discussing and planning to ensure that the next day goes as well as this one. The staff should be doing these things after the kids have left so if 1 or 2 hang around waiting a while surely it wouldn't matter that much. Our school would be onto a nice little earner plus the staff that run after school clubs just for the fun of it and to benefit the students. £5 a minute- yeah ha!
  • jonny
    Well said David! Parents have a choice to send their children to these nurseries
  • Guybrush T.
    David and jonny When you've finished watching The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie enter the real world. It's not exactly optional. Analogy- tell meercats not to spend all day keeping an eye out for predators and have some quality time with the kids all day. Us humans too are providing for our offspring but unfortunately our world is even more competetive than theirs. Expecting all the "it's a case of priorities" or "you make your own choices" carp which just indicates a lack of empathy of other peoples situations, an unwillingness to attempt to understand or an arrogance that they are somehow, without even knowing for sure, much more able than others. This poll is about Nurseries- if it doesn't affect you- lump off!
  • Jo F.
    Guybrush "lack of empathy of other peoples situations" Like those nursery workers that want to go home on time? Don't want to pay extra? pick the little buggers up on time
  • Andrew
    sorry Guybrush But when we had our second child my wife wanted to be home with the kids and i wanted to have sex so i agreed agreed with her .... it just meant we had to do without things like holidays getting the house done up living a frugal lifestyle but we knew who was minding our kids all the time and that they were getting the best care they could ... was it easy ... no... was it worth it ... Defo .... although the sex did dry up a bit after the 3rd child was born ;-)
  • christt a.
    I'm sure these places are a massive licence to print cash - but how much of it goes to the child minders? The insurance for protecting your business from slimy claim-tards makes overheads pretty expensive. Especially with any injured party in a child care service being the parents 'little cherub' - My child would never lick electrical sockets!
  • Tom
    Lets sue them - like banks. Surely £5 a minute must me considered "unreasonable charge" - if not immoral...
  • Guybrush T.
    Don't tell me how to bring up my kids! I don't have any you crazy nuts. I was just saying some folk don't have a choice and school staff stay at work after the kids have gone- that's professionalism and taking pride in our work. Oh and your medals are on the way! Apologies but that is all of the sarcasm I can manage as I look forward to my 12 hr day inc. preparation for today and beyond. Out
  • Frank
    1. Like the banks, they're not a charity or a public service. They're a business and businesses are there to make money last time I looked. 2. Again like the banks, if you don't like the late fees, don't be f**king late. 3. Guybrush - real world? Are you suggesting that these barely minimum wage nursery staff care as much about their jobs as you teachers? If they did, they'd be teachers and earning a f**k of a lot more.
  • Lee
    @ Guybrush You do realise you get paid to do planning/organising/meeting? It's part of your job.
  • Robovski
    Gee, a company provides a service for money (in this case childcare) and you get a rant about how a company wants money for that service. Wow. I suppose they should look after kids for free and you make a suggested donation? That'll pay the rent and the wages. Get real. Pick up your kids on-time or pay for it.
  • David
    If you can't afford to bring up your kids without dumping them on a half-trained 16 year old and a fat retired ex-dinner lady then don't have them.
  • Double s.
    Guybrush,the teachers at my son's primary are out the car park(which used to be a playground) and on the way home before the kids are out of the bit of playground that's left. As for nursery charges most people know about these before they sign the contract or whatever it is.
  • Spock
    Kids, Money, Life ... all huge decisions. We have had our little girl in nursery now for a few months, it pains me to leave her in the morning and wish I could stay at home. My wife feels the same. What can you do? We made the decision to have a baby and yes, it costs a fortune, but we couldn't really wait much longer (both well in to our 30's). We are good parents and our girl is happy, but when I look back on a Friday night and realise I have only seen her for 6 hours Mon-Fri you wonder how we could have done things differently. The only compromise I can see is one of us give up work, but that would impact the future we are trying to establish for our family. No one said it would be easy and it isn't. As for late fees, well I'm sorry I have little sympathy for people who are hit time after time, you need to be more organised and disciplined, you can't turn up to work late every day (well I can't) so you make it work. The same priority should be placed on picking up the kids. That said, 'a-one-off' should be free as everyone is late once in a while (except Ricky Gervais).
  • Jack
    Those fees are too high, I feel sorry for the parents that have to pay out. There should be some fee, but just a continuation of the hourly rate on a pro rata basis, e.g. 1 min late = 1/60 x 1 hour rate, so it would only be like 50p to £1.
  • Mike U.
    Both mine go to private nursery and If me or the wife can't pick them up then one of the nursery nurses to takes them home, result as she lives 2 doors down and loved children I would gladly pay her for this and have mentioned this to her in the past but she doesn't mind and all she asks is we house sit her 2 dogs if she ever has to go away Result :)
  • HAG
    Children are so lazy. When will they start looking after themselves?
  • Jo F.
    A nice suggestion Jack, but how is the nursery supposed to plan, and make sure there are enough staff on to cover the unknown number of parents that will be late by an unknown number of minutes. If they don't penalise the late parents, they'll raise the fees for all kids to cover the extra cost of overtime, which isn't fair on the punctual parents.
  • Mandy B.
    Don't be silly david - that is too much of a common sense approach for most people. They'd much rather dump their kids off with someone they have never met. Seeing their own children for 10hours a week, if the child is lucky. That is far more neglect/child abuse than brining a child up with little money. Private nurseries are also run by scum, for scum so it isn't any surprise they are trying to fleece each other. It's the nursery nurse/support staff who are exploited in all this...
  • Ten B.
    [...] nurseries get tough and charge parents who pick their kids up late. Of course ‘getting tough’ should mean dumping them on the street at [...]
  • michelle
    I work in a nursery and i agree with the late charges as we have had parents who have abused the system many times befeore. Charges are put in place to stop parents abusing the system of nursery closing hours. If they need extra time either book in advance or find another nursery with extended hours. It is not fair on staff who have to change plans to stay frequently whilst waiting for a parent to turn up. The latest we have had is 7oo when we close at 6.
  • nikki
    i used to be a nursery nurse and yes if the parents were late picking up then there was a charge.more than half the staff in nurseries are qualified and most are very good at their jobs.if parents do not pick up on time staff need to stay behind and in most cases do not get any extra pay for working over time infact no pay at all in many nurseries so do not take it out on staff.if you are going to be late from no falt of your own then yes i think it would be nice not to be charged but then if you were in there position how would you decide if the reasons are most cases parents just cant be bothered to get there on time because they thought theyed have a crafty nap or just nip into the shop on the way in n got side tracked.if you plan your day better then there would be no need to be late however when there is an accident on the motor way and people cant get in then this is acceptable.i am now a nanny and the parents are frequently late but i do not charge they are late all the time and i dont get a penny even if it half hour late.once they get home i then have to get home myself and from when i am supposed to finish at 5 i dont get home untill 7 sometimes and i only live and hour away and still donot get a penny,then ofcorse life still goes on when you get cook clean and give your own children some quality time.because dont forget child carers are people too
  • Mary P.
    Have just come across this- yes many teachers may stay behind after school however having 9-3.30 contact time with an hour's lunch contrasts sharply with a nursery nurse's day of perhaps 8-6, half an hour's lunch. What about the staff who have to pick up their own children from after-school care if nursery parents pick up late? I would be tempted to ask the late parent to pay my late charge as well as their own. Contrary to some respondents' misguided belief, the majority of nursery staff, in my experience, are well-qualified, dedicated and already doing planning/ preparation/resourcing outside of nursery hours. And as a point of interest, after school clubs on school premises tend to charge high late pick-up fees too, far higher, locally, than those of private nurseries!
  • Sharla
    This is interesting. But may be a little thought for the members of staff who have been working for 11 hours and just want to go home? Because we have to be back at work at half 7 the next day! Because all you parents get annoyed with the private nursery charging you £5 a minute but it's the direct manager that put that in place not the member of staff who has to wait with your little darling once everyone has gone home. You might have a valid reason for being late but you're child doesn't care about that reason and neither do the staff. And in my setting the charges are there to discourage late parents partly so the staff can get home at a decent-ish hour and you can spend some time with your child! Also, another thing that grates on me is when you all go on about the cost of the nursery blah blah blah, everyone knows having a child is expensive! Plus, in most nurseries the staff do not get paid when you are late! So the only person you're really letting down is your child. Have some common curtesy and be on time for your child, like you are for work.

What do you think?

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