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Bank holiday nursery closures: Will parents have to pay?

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15/09/2022
The government announced Monday 19 September – the date of the State Funeral – will be a bank holiday. As nurseries are closed, parents are questioning whether they’ll still need to pay.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II’s State Funeral on Monday 19 September will be a bank holiday, to allow the nation to mourn the passing of Her Majesty and pay their final respects.

However, the government made it clear that there is no statutory entitlement to time off and so the decision is ultimately up to employers and organisations.

Shops, banks and schools will close, with usual payments, both incomings and outgoings also affected.

But when it comes to childcare, parents with children at nursery questioned whether they would still have to pay, especially if they were required to work so would need to arrange alternative provisions.

Posting on mumsnet, one parent posted: “My work have decided no day off for us. I don’t begrudge the nursery workers a day off but I’ve just had notification saying they’ll be open half a day but we’ll be charged the full day.”

Another wrote: “I’m meant to be on two night shifts for the NHS and I have no alternative childcare so I’ll have to take them both off and owe back the hours. And pay nursery for the privilege.”

One added: “Our nursery make us pay for all bank holidays. If you would normally pay for a bank holiday you will have to suck it up, it’s in our contract too.”

Meanwhile one parent posted: “DS [darling son] nursery is closed and they’ve removed a day’s pay from our October invoice to refund it.”

Clear and transparent

So, do you need to pay? Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said: “Whether or not an early years setting can charge parents their normal fees for Monday’s bank holiday will depend on the terms and conditions set out in a parent’s individual contract.

“While we are aware that many settings have offered to waive fees for the day, we also understand why others may not be able to afford to do so.

“We recognise that this is a challenging situation for both parents – especially those who may still have to work on the bank holiday and will need to find alternative provision – and providers who wish to give their employees the opportunity to pay their respects, but will still accrue costs for that day, including staff wages.

“Ultimately, we would encourage early years providers to be clear and transparent with all families at their settings, and ensure that they receive as much notice as possible of a decision.”

Childcare alternatives

Kate Palmer, HR advice and consultancy director at Peninsula, said that where parents may need to work but don’t have alternative childcare arrangements if nursery is closed, they could seek to take unpaid time off.

She explained: “Employees have a statutory entitlement to unpaid time off for dependants (TOD) in emergency situations. In this case, if the employee is unable to make alternative childcare arrangements following nursery closures, they may be able to speak with their employer about taking TOD.

“Other options they may wish to discuss are booking annual leave or utilising accrued time off in lieu (TOIL). Alternatively, some employees may be able to work from home or amend their normal working hours/duties for the day of the Queen’s funeral, to allow them to juggle their professional and personal commitments.”

Palmer added that while there is no legal obligation to pay an employee who does not work due to their childcare responsibilities, “employers should remember that this is a unique and rare event”.

“Supporting staff with paid leave for one day can go a long way to boosting satisfaction and engagement, thus contributing to higher retention and improved productivity. But this is ultimately at the discretion of the employer,” she said.

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