School and nursery closures: your rights

After the announcement that schools and nurseries will be closed from the end of this week except for key workers’ children, we outline the main issues that you are asking about.

Kids at work, children at work, children working

 

Latest updates:

Coronavirus: your questions answered

Coronavirus childcare information


Things are changing rapidly with the coronavirus pandemic and it can be hard to keep up. The latest announcement about school and childcare closures has brought a slew of questions about fees, tax credits and the like.

Information is still being updated (see links above for most recent updates), but here are some of the answers to your questions:

Do we need to keep paying nursery fees in the event of closure?

Parents will need to talk to their providers about whether they have to keep paying fees. Check your contract – it may state that there will be no refunds if the provider gas to close for reasons beyond its control. However, some may offer refunds – even if there is this proviso, given the exceptional circumstances – or not require fees if they are covered by their insurance or if government chooses to reimburse them. Childcare campaigners are asking for a rescue package, given many are already in challenging financial circumstances.

If your child is sick and can’t go to their childminder or you cannot get there you will similarly need to check your contract to see if you need to keep paying. However, if it is a registered childcare provider and you are still paying for it you should continue to receive any support you might be claiming – eg tax credits, vouchers, tax-free childcare or Universal Credit. If your own work circumstances change, you will need to update this and it may mean you are eligible for other forms of support.

Are childminders and nannies included in the shutdown?

Registered childminders are included. Nannies on Ofsted’s voluntary register aren’t.  Reports suggest people are offering unregistered childminding services, but this is going against Government advice on social isolation and could be in breach of safeguarding laws.

Do I have to pay nursery and childminding fees if I have to keep my children at home?

The Government says that registered childcare providers who are forced to close will be given financial support and compensation. More detail on the financial support available to all nurseries, pre-schools and childminders affected will be announced soon.

Am I legally entitled to time off work or to work from home if my kids are at home?

Legally, your employer does not have to pay you for any time off for childcare or let you work from home. You will have to negotiate this. Again, check your contract and staff handbook. There is a lot of pressure on employers to enable homeworking – if at all possible – at this time. It is in their interests too to keep their business running.

Employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to help someone who depends on them in an unexpected event, though you don’t have a legal right to be paid for this time. Some employers will pay, however, so check your contract and workplace policy. You may also be able to book the time off as holiday. Speak to your employer directly to find out your options. For more info, see the ACAS website.

If your pay reduces, you may be entitled to Universal Credit – see https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-what-it-means-for-you/. You can also call the Employers for Childcare freephone advice line on 0800 028 3008 for a personalised benefits calculation.


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Will I be entitled to pay if I am ill or need to self isolate?

Your right to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) depend on your employment status and earnings.

If you’re an employee and earn at least £118 a week, you will be able to get £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks from the first day you are off sick if it is related to coronavirus.

Some employers have their own more generous sick pay schemes. It is worth checking your contract, staff handbook or with your employer.

If you’re not eligible for SSP, you may be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you’re ill and Universal Credit for costs like housing.

Will Universal Credit be stopped if I miss appointments due to self-isolation?

If you can’t make an appointment at your Jobs and Benefits office due to coronavirus you need to let your local benefits office know and you will continue to receive benefits.

Anyone self-isolating who is self-employed, or who works on a short-term contract, can apply for Universal Credit or new style Contributory Employment and Support Allowance during a period of self-isolation.

Support & Community

Join our Facebook Group #schoolsout – support for parents




Comments [128]

  • AK says:

    Hi,
    I am a key worker and our nursery has closed. They have said that they will not charge for the period that the nursery has closed.
    We have decided to pull our child out of nursery and issue a months notice. They have stated that they will charge for this 1 months notice. Can they do this?
    thanks

  • Danny says:

    Hi, My partner and I have a 2.5 year old in a private nursery. I am working full time from home and my partner works for the nhs. The nursery are saying that non key workers can freeze their childs place with no fees payable yet key workers are due to pay full fees in April. Seems as though Key workers are being financially penalised for helping keep the country moving/safe. Spoke to department of education helpline who said they should not be charging due to the assistance they are receiving?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      We have received a lot of complaints from people who cannot use nurseries because they are not key workers so must work around their children or are not earning and are therefore unable to pay nursery fees. Is your nursery saying that you have to pay because your child is currently in nursery or is your child at home with you? I know that the Government is continuing to pay early years support to nurseries for eg the 30 free hours for 3 and 4 year olds. Nurseries are also able to benefit from other schemes for businesses. If the DfE is saying they should not be charging then I would double check that as they may have got confused over the early years assistance which just covers the free hours schemes.

  • Christine says:

    I am grandmother who is keyworker and usually help babysitting my 2yr okd grandaughter. My daughter is also keyworker but has been in isolation for 7 days and due to go back to work next week . Is it safe for me to still help with child minding as both keyworkers ?

  • Ruby says:

    I am a childminder and I’m still open for key workers children.
    One of my keyworkers has decided to keep jer child at home with a parent that is a none key worker. Both are still being paid and they rec tax credits.
    Surely I am still within my rights to be expected to be paid as I will also be keeping the place open for their child when they do decide to send him in.

  • Kelly Mcleod says:

    Hi I’m just looking for advice as I can’t get in touch with hmrc

    My kids have both went into isolation due to my daughter having a collapsed lung I get help with nursery fees from hmrc
    But as they are not going and I don’t have to pay the nursery For the tome being what do I do??
    I’ve tired to phone hmrc and been in a que for hours with no luck I’m stressed that if I can’t get through to them and once this dues down I’ll have to pay it all back

  • Rachel says:

    My daughters childminder is telling me to claim universal credit for childcare and to give to her whatever they give to me. Can she ask me to do this?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      If your income has fallen due to coronavirus you may be entitled to Universal Credit to cover childcare expenses – see http://www.turn2us.org.uk. They have an online benefits calculator which will tell you what you are entitled to. You may have read in the news that UC lines are currently jammed and it is very difficult to get through due to demand.

  • Charlotte p says:

    I work for the NHS and My child attends a private nursery but they are closing due to no staff because of the coronavirus I only work part time so I get help from tax credits towards the cost of the nursery fees. Do I need to tell tax credits she is not attending.

  • Shravya says:

    Hi,

    My nearly 3 year old attends a private day nursery. I have been asked to pay half the fees for April although he wont be attending. Should I be paying for April and coming months when they are shut due to Govt policy around Corona?

    Thanks

  • Adele says:

    I am single mum of two, working 22 hours a week part time as a care assistant in a care home. My friend helping out during my night shift has refuse further assistance due to the virus. Do I have to stop work and claim universal credit. I’m I eligible? Pls advice

  • Y Ajay says:

    I work in the NHS on the front line. My husband does too. We have just been told that because of lack of demand our daughter’s nursery will be closing. We have no family here and no other person to provide child care. The options they are providing are far away and will add time to our overall commute. To settings our daughter is unfamiliar with. Can I ask the local authority to place her in a different nursery closer that has availability?

  • Kay says:

    Hi,

    I am a teacher and have three children who attend private nursery. Fees are in the excess of £1200+ monthly. Nursery is still open for children of key workers.

    I am worried I will still have to pay fees when children are no longer attending, I also don’t know if I am entitled to pay on a Part-time hourly paid contract.

  • Craig says:

    Hi, our nursery is open so technically our 11 month old has childcare, I wfh but my wife is a key worker and has to go in. My question is, is it actually safe to put the baby in nursery? Surely her chances of infection are greatly increased by doing this? I feel very guilty at the thought of putting her in again. I can take some paid leave but can’t do that for very long. Not really sure what to do, all other illnesses spread really fast throughout nurseries so why would this be any different?

  • Kay says:

    Hi,

    I am a teacher with 3 children who all attend nursery. Monthly nursery fees are in the excess of £1200+ I called the nursery to ask whether they were still open – “Yes for children of key workers” I am worried that I will still have to pay fees even when children are not attending. I also do not know where I stand in terms of sure pay being on a Part time hourly paid contract.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      I am assuming you are not working. Fees will be an issue between you and your nursery and will depend on the contract you have with them and whether it covers them for this kind of thing. If your income is reduced due to not working you could look at whether you could increase or apply for tax credits as a result of your reduced income – see https://www.workingmums.co.uk/coronavirus-your-questions-answered/

      • Martine Wayne says:

        I’m a key worker but I dont want to send my son to childcare that has been provided my the council. I feel with my son mixing with others, comes home to me, I’m then working with the most vulnerable people without getting tested. I’m just so worried.

        • Mandy Garner

          Mandy Garner says:

          Hi, your anxiety is absolutely understandable. Have you spoken to your childcare provider about it and about the measures they might have in place to protect your son? Are you a single parent? Is your concern more about the nursery or about you passing on the virus to your son? Or both? Please email at mandy@workingmums.co.uk

  • Natalie says:

    My daughters registered childminder had to close last week due to government advice. I have today had a phone call from the childminder advising she is giving me 4 weeks notice and is terminating the contract. I completely understand this but is it right that I still have to pay her for the month of April as she has decided to terminate the contract because of the covid situation. I am currently not working due to being home with my son whilst schools are closed and my husbands company has also had to close so worried about it financially.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      There are many people in the same situation and childcare campaigners are urging the government to consider this issue. We will follow any updates. If your contract says you have to pay in this circumstance currently that is what you would have to do, but you may be able to ask to stage payments.

  • Annie says:

    My childminder is charging me 50% fees for the foreseeable future and my daughter is unable to attend as I am not a key worker , is that right?

  • Jem says:

    My nursery is only opened to kewworkers children. However, every staff member has been asked to come in apart from the ones that are sick and has been signed off. Also I have a child that attends the nursery. Is it essential for me and my child to go in since we are over staffed? The total of children we had on Monday was 10 in the whole nursery with sixteen staff nit even including the manager and our administrator. I feel it is irresponsible. My main concern is can I take my child out and stay home with her even though i am a keyworker. And what are my benefits if I do as a key worker?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Is your nursery not considering furloughing workers [claiming compensation for those who cannot work due to the coronavirus] rather than keeping staff on who are not necessary? It may be that they were asking people to come in because they thought they would have more children. You should definitely self isolate if you think your child or you has symptoms and you can take unpaid parental leave.

  • Susan says:

     Will I still get paid if they have decided not to be available for work?
    My daughter `s nursery is shut now till further notice.
    I feel worry about the risk I am taking on my baby. As we work closely with the numbers of students in accommodation. I don’t know what can I do.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The Govt is saying you should only go to work if your work is absolutely necessary, ie you are a key worker. Employers can claim compensation if people cannot work due to the coronavirus.

  • Carla says:

    My nursery is currently staying open for the key parents children. However our management cant affect to pay us our full wages so have cut down our hours. Does this mean the government will still be able to cover the rest of our wage which we have lost out on as we cant work to our full time hours.

  • marlena says:

    Hi, I am a key worker working 32hrs weekly, my son goes to a nursery for 15hrs a week, just wondering if the nursery can offer him placement for more than 15hrs weekly? In this difficult time it is almost impossible to find sb to look after him. Thanks

  • Agi says:

    My son`s nursery is shut now till further notice. We have just got email from them that they won`t charge fees as they got help from government to pay staff wages. We receive child tax credit which partly covers a childcare cost, do I have to inform HMRC that our nursery is shut?

  • Natasha says:

    I have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days, due to someone in my household displaying symptoms. I have followed government advice and taken my 1yr old out nursey, the nursey are saying i need to pay his fees in full during this period, it is a private nursey. my concern is parents will not self isolate their children if they have to pay for a service they are not using. Do parents have to pay for childcare during household self-isolation?

  • Massey says:

    Hi, I am confused as to why the government is keeping schools open to now basically operate as child care Centers, opposed to fully closing schools like most countries and keeping some childcare Centers, nurseries and child minders open?? Also if schools/ child care Centers are going to be open should there not be a limit of how many children and staff can be in the building at once?

  • John .P says:

    My sons Nursery was staying open for key workers, however since the government have announced 80% pay, the staff have all decided to stay at home for ‘social distancing’ and the nursery is now closed as there is not enough staff for it to remain open. Will the staff still get paid if they have decided not to be available for work? I would have thought the provision of childcare for key workers meant they would only get paid if they attended work as I believe is the case with school teachers?

  • Ariana says:

    Hi

    My child nursery in a london borough is refusing to close. They have said that public health england has confirmed that the compulsory closure does not apply to private nurseries. Is this correct? Because of this, they say they are remaining fully open to all children and all parents must pay fees. This is really concerning as according to the broadcast all registered childcare providers should be closed to prevent the spread. I dont want to send my child due to the risk and I also feel it is unfair to ask for payment given the government has said they should close. I feel its socially irresponsible and worry about the children and adults put at risk. Can the nursery do this and who can I speak to about this further if they are not allowed?

    Thank you

  • russell says:

    The misses has now finished work (agreed un paid leave)due to now not having childcare after the shutdown on Friday. The government said if you are affected by corona virus they would cover 80% of wages. Can you confirm that this is covered? As technically we have been affected by this

  • Sarah Goodall says:

    I am an NHS worker my mum is my main childcare provider she is a pensioner and wanting to self isolate which means I won’t have childcare will I still get paid.

  • Tina says:

    My 11 month old goes to a private nursery and they are telling me that they are staying open until they are told otherwise. However I thought the message was already clear that they need to close. Can they stay open? I don’t want to risk sending my child due to the additional measures that have been recommended

  • Gemma Welsh says:

    I am childminder and have a parent on universal credit. Will she still get the childcare paid for even though we have been forced to stop working?. Can I claim this from her or do I suck it up as lost earnings?

  • Laura Payne says:

    My childminder is telling us we need to pay full fees throughout the during of the closure. I appreciate that the situation is difficult for them but I cannot financially afford to continue paying for a service I am not receiving. We are not eligible for any government funding so I pay the full fees monthly. Will the childminder be eligible for any relief that would help with this and are they within their rights to continue to ask for full payment?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      If they are self-employed they should be able to apply for the equivalent of Statutory Sick Pay and will not have to do self-assessment this quarter or pay VAT. Childcare campaigners are asking for further compensation. Govt support for parents for early years childcare is continuing.

  • Donna Underwood says:

    My son who is 2 years goes to a childminder/ nursey but they have shut now because of this cond-19 but they still want payments I get help from tax credits for this but also I’m not allowed to go back to work because I’m pregnant I’ve only got 4 weeks left to go before having this little one but I don’t know where i stand about paying the childminder/ nursey because I’m a single mum and I’ve not told tax credits yet because i was waiting until I go on maternity leave to do it i had 3 more weeks left at work before going on maternity leave but now I can not go back because of this new 12 weeks thing my boss is going to ask head office to start my maternity leave earlier for me but I don’t know what’s going to happen about my sons nursey fees if i still get the money in my working tax credits even know they are shut please can you advise me what’s going to happen please.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Nurseries should be able to claim compensation for most of their staffing costs due to coronavirus as announced on Friday. Check with your nursery when they have a clearer picture of how this works next week.

      • Massey says:

        Hi, would it not make more sense for child minders and nurseries to stay open for key workers opposed to schools? I’m confused.

  • Carol Lowrey says:

    Hi I’m a registered childminder and a parent is a key worker, she claims the childcare element of working tax credits.
    As I only normally do wrap around care would she be able to claim the extra for child to be with me alll day or do I do it for nothing? Thank you

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Is your contract only for the wraparound hours? If so you would need a temporary change to the contract and she would need to contact tax credits to get an increased amount.

  • Hayley1607 says:

    My partners son is going home to his mum today who is a key worker. We have offered to have him at home as our work has changed due to Covid-19 so we are basically isolated, but his mum is still insisting on keeping him and putting him into childcare whilst shes at work. Is there anything we can do about this? I believe she is putting him at extra risk.

  • Amanda Johns says:

    As a childminder I have a parent that is claiming child tax credits and most of her childcare fees paid. As we have been told to close am I entitled to still have a payment as I would potentially still been open? If not tact credit would have to be informed and the money stopped..

  • Nadine says:

    I have just taken my 2 children out of childcare. One was in a private nursery and the other with a childminder. I received help from tax credits for childcare costs, do I need to contact tax credits to let them know.

  • Claire says:

    I’m a key worker (teacher) and will still be at work. I pay extra to drop my child off early yet the nursery is saying they are not offering early drop off during this time which means I won’t be able to get to work on time. What are my rights?

  • Hannah B says:

    I have a term time only contract with the childminder , she is saying i still have to pay her even though i will not be using her services? Where do i stand please, advice greatly received.

  • Monika says:

    Could anyone advise me please. Our T&C says “: x nursery will not be able to offer refunds of fees or compensation. ” Do I understood this correctly: we wont get money back that we already paid but that doesn mean that we need to pay while nursery is not available for all kids?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      You will have to address this with your nursery. Nurseries should now be able to claim back most of staff wages if nurseries have to close or lay off staff.

  • Sade says:

    I claim a certain percentage for my childcare but now nursery is closed am struggling to get through on the phone am trying to stop my extra payments coming to me

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Sadie,
      The Government has said all early years entitlements eg tax-free childcare, 30 free hours, etc, are still in place. Is that what you mean or are you talking about childcare vouchers – you would need to contact your provider about these.
      Best wishes, Mandy

  • Kate says:

    Hi
    Both my partner and I are key workers, however I have a child that is usually cared for by my mom who is 70.My daughter does not attend a nursery and hasn’t started school nursery yet. I am a teaching assistant, my partner works away in the armed forces. Am I entitled to time off now to care for my youngest daughter?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Have you check with your school to see if you are still required? They may be able to cover your wages through the compensation scheme announced on Friday if the school is closed. Otherwise you can also contact your local education authority.

  • Carrie gray says:

    Does anyone know what happens when you have money in your account with nursery I’ve almost £700 in mine as they are all year round but with what is currently happening they can’t return and also start school in September… The nursery have halted any further payments which is good but are saying I can’t have my money back does anyone know what I can do??

  • Nickie mclinden says:

    My childminder is only Woking for key worker children, no problem as I am working from home. I’m phoning tax credits to tell them it’s stopping. Will I have to change to universal credit?

  • Ally says:

    I’m a full time working single mum and school has closed been advised I can only take one month off but school advised me he probably will not go back to new secondary school in September.
    It’s still not clear what I can apply for would I have to quit to become sons childcare and teacher and would I be able to claim there is no clear answers please anyone in same boat that can or have been advised please

  • Linda Fenton says:

    Are childminders in Scotland being told to shut down too?

  • Natalie Smith says:

    Will the closure of childcare affect my tax credits if my provider is allowing a reduced rate during the closure.
    I’m u able to work because of the closure and have no money to pay childminder other than the money I receive towards childcare from child tax credits.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, we are seeking urgent clarification on this point and will update the site as soon as we have this.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      This is the statement from government: “Funding for the government’s early years entitlements will continue during any periods of nursery, preschool or childminder closures, or where children cannot attend due to coronavirus (COVID-19).”

  • Stephanie says:

    I don’t have a key worker role however my childminder is stating she would still be able to care for my child if I was still at work?

    Which my workplace hasnt shut down so I would like to continue to work but is this going against government guidelines ?

  • Fill says:

    My pre school nursery where I had 30 hours government funded hours is closed as of today.
    I am a nhs key worker. Are there any other pre school nurseries opened in my area and is it possible for me to transfer my child to a different day nursery from monday 23rd march and obtain the 30 hours government funded dedicated hours from there?

  • Paula Wilson says:

    I work in a private nursery which is staying open for key workers I have underlying health issues and don’t no if I will receive any benefits if I self isolate

  • Apostolos says:

    are childminders and nannies in wales included in the shutdown?

  • Carmel Eyre says:

    I have been also been advised that my children can no longer be cared for due to the government procedures on childcare.

    My nursery is still saying I will need to pay my monthly fee, how can this be. You don’t pay for a service you don’t receive. Now I will have to take time off work to look after my child so I will not have any wages to pay for this non existant childcare. I even if I could remain in work, I refuse to pay for a service I am not receiving.They have stated they are guarenteed for a loan but they will be unable to pay this back so it seems rather than use the governments help, they are coming to the parents for the fees, which is totally barbaric.

    Any advice appreciated. Thank you

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Nurseries should be compensated and the details are still being worked out. We will be updating the site with more information very shortly.

      • Emily Daws says:

        I would like answer too we being told got to pay keep sons place although can not attend and no refund for the prepaid either. Why do we pay for what mit receiving they are chaining the government not helping them?

  • Dagmara says:

    Hi , im a nanny looking after school children before, after school and school half terms , im on fixed salary but from monday next week looks like im gonna work 8-9 hours per day for next few months due to school being close . My question is : is my salary staying the same or not ?
    Many thanks

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Dagmar, What does it say in your contract? Does it specify your hours of employment and your duties? It will depend very much on your contract.

      • Dagmara says:

        Well, i don’t have a contract , however I agreed to look after those children before, after school and school holidays that’s why im on fixed salary .

  • Paul Phelan says:

    I have been advised that my children can no longer be cared for due to the government procedures on childcare. This is not a problem however, the childminder has stated that i must still pay in full. Is this correct does anyone know and if so is their anything in place for me to claim this back ? i understand this is not the childminders fault and should not be out of pocket but its not my fault either. I would of thought that the childminder would claim for loss of earnings from the government help scheme. any advice on this is greatly appreciated.


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