Daycare Provider Contract Question

Updated on June 17, 2015
A.K. asks from Westwood, MA
16 answers

I recently gave two months notice to a home daycare provider. However, in our last week with the provider, I was asked to pay two weeks worth of vacation time for a vacation that has yet to be taken because my child has been there for almost a year since the last vacation. Ethically, I feel this isn't right. Not sure contractually though.
What language in the contract should I look for that says I have to pay for a vacation that has yet to occur after termination of contract? We paid for a two week's vacation last summer 2014.

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So What Happened?

I want to thank you all for your responses especially hearing from actual daycare providers. I am not heartless to believe that providers, as small business owners are allowed vacation pay, just as with 'any other job', but expecting payment for two weeks of vacation 4 days before your child's last day with them is not right. As this was never mentioned or brought up before. (FYI Vacation is tentatively scheduled for later in the Summer. Two months after my child leaves their care and four months since we gave notice.)

So what happened?
The language about paying upfront for vacation time for the year is not in the contract. (In the back of my mind I was hoping it was because then I could go back to my husband and say I didn't read the fine print...Then figure out how to come up with the money.)

We worked it a way, however much I feel like a jerk for having to bring up the conversation. I feel anger for allowing myself to forget she is running a business and is not my friend. And I'm upset I feel she crossed the line and used my love for her and my child's love for her to expect money that was not contractual. I quote - "Don't I deserve vacation pay?" The answer is yes. She is a wonderful provider, but this was wrong.

The dates did not add up and the timelines were off. Even if the contract did say I owed vacation pay upfront, it should have been a prorated rate for the 10 months since the last vacation or 7 months since the end of the year long contract, which was never re-signed. (My fault not to have signed a new contract. A blurred line between business and raising my child, who is my world.)

I asked that in the future she work on her contract.

I am still grateful for what she has done for my child. We've been through a lot together, but now it is just awkward. Three more days.

Thanks again for all the advice and information.

Featured Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

Where I am from you are paid 4% vacation pay on all earnings, so you would owe her 4% on all earnings since her last vacation. If you terminate before vacation the employee doesn't just forfeit vacation pay.

ETA: Isn't vacation pay mandatory in the US? It is in Canada. Everybody who works must receive vacation pay!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Sounds like you're already set on this, but I'll chime in after Pam's response. As a provider, I had paid vacation, but if a family gave notice prior to that vacation, I was screwed. My families stayed for years, and they had a policy with all the dates in it on Sept. 1 for the upcoming year, so they were always aware and prepared. But, I did have a family who left to join a YMCA program, and they gave two weeks notice on Dec. 5th or so, so they wouldn't have to pay the time off at Christmas - that felt sucky to me. ( fault for wording the contract that way.)

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I did childcare for years and just find this crazy. If it was a one-year contract that you are quitting early, there should be some 'two weeks notice' for early withdrawl of the child from the program (withdrawl being at the parents' request, not the providers). , just to cover the gap in enrollment. That is common. But to have to pay for an extra two weeks to cover future vacation time sounds pretty loosey-goosey to me. In the 20 years I worked in child care, never heard of something like this.

As I said, it IS common to have a fee for early termination. One thing she should consider, though, is to calculate her vacation pay into her regular rate. For example, when I had my preschool program, I had two weeks paid (winter holiday and spring break, when these families would schedule travel) built into the overall breakdown of monthly tuition, so families could count on having the same bill month to month. I would comb the contract for language which suggests that families have to pay X or by a certain time for 'vacation' pay. Personally, I think she should build this 'extra' into her regular rate. So, re-read the contract.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Well you gave her 2 months notice.
Seems to me that should be plenty of time to fill the spot you vacated.
Paying for vacation time that is beyond the point where your contract ended is a nice bonus but I don't think you are obligated to pay this.
Would she try to take you to small claims court over this?
I think she's just asking to see how much she can get.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I wouldn't pay simply because you are not there for those 2 weeks that your care giver will be on vacation. If she took her 2 weeks in February then you would have paid for those 2 week. She doesn't get to charge you for services she's not rendering after your child has left her care. I could understand if she tried to prorate it to 1 week but asking for 2 is greedy and just not right.

Personally I think the reason she's asking is because she hasn't replaced your child and the next person isn't going to want to pay a new caregiver for 2 weeks of vacation right off the bat. Really not your issue.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

Well - I'm not sure this ethically wrong. Employees typically accrue vacation during the year and if it's not used, it's paid out. So maybe she's earned 11/12th of her annual 2 week vacation. I see your side as she's not your direct employee but if this was our nanny we were terminating, we would pay out unused vacation and a home daycare is similar to a nanny relationship. Not sure about the contract but I would look for wording about vacation being earned each month. And even if there is no language, I would consider paying her some. Imagine how you'd feel at work if a month before you were taking 2 weeks you had worked for all year, you were let go and got no compensation at all for that vacation time. And likely she takes her 2 weeks in the summer partly to accommodate families because they often take vacation then too. If she took it in February, people would complain they are forced to take vacation then too and that's less common than a summer family trip.

ETA: reading other answers, I'm probably wrong. If she has another family to fill, they will be paying her vacation unless they negotiated otherwise -which is possible.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I am a daycare provider and unfortunately don't get paid for vacation time. Didn't work it into my contract, so I just try to put money aside to cover vacation time. Wish I did get paid vacation, though. I think it's fair.
Anyway, does this provider have a new family scheduled to take your place right away? If so, they will be paying her vacation pay. She did have two months to fill the spot, which was very considerate. If she has not found another family, then it would be a nice gesture from you to pay her vacation pay, if you were very pleased with the care she provided to your children. :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like she is trying to cut the amount of loss she will take from not having your child. You do NOT owe her the vacation, unless it says it in the contract that each year you pay up front. When my kids were in daycare, if we left before her week of vacation, she simply didn't get paid from us for that week, because she wasn't still employed. Make sense?

I can't imagine anyone would ever agree to a situation where they owed vacation time upfront. Unfortunately, in-home providers don't have all of the benefits of those who work for other companies, so I don't think anything is accrued. My sitter took 10 days per year PAID leave and anything else was unpaid. If she took a week straight, we didn't pay for it. So yes, she started with those 10 days, but we didn't have to pay her for any days she didn't use.

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answers from Houston on

Not all employers pay out vacation. It depends on what is written in the handbook. At our company, for example, I get 3 weeks vacation. If I have only accrued 2 weeks and leave,, I get paid 2 weeks. My other company didn't pay out at all. If you left, you didn't get it. That was stated in the handbook. If you contract doesn't not specify vacation pay, you do not owe her the two weeks. If it does, then you would owe.

Review your contract!!!

Also, if you paid vacation time last year in July, I would go by the date that you gave notice. Which would be before July. To me, you would NOT owe vacation. You gave notice prior to the last summer vacation. Thus she did not accrue her time yet. But that's me.

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answers from Dover on

Did the provider have two weeks vacation scheduled for during the time your child was there? What is the notice policy in the contract? What is the vacation policy in the contract?

It's hard to know exactly what to look for but anything that mentions notice and/or vacation would be the focus.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

With two months' notice, I wouldn't feel obligated to pay future vacation time. It depends upon the contract. If you don't see any references to this situation in the contract, then don't pay it. Read the contract thoroughly and look for the word "vacation."

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I am assuming this is not your vacation but that the provider gets two weeks of vacation a year? If you have a contract and the contract requires you to give the provider two weeks vacation then you owe it. If there is no contract you don't have to pay it but most companies do pay accrued vacation. You figure it this way, if you didn't pay it out they would have given you notice of their two weeks of vacation right around the time you gave your two month notice. I know that is why we pay out accrued vacation, otherwise you have lovely people giving you a two week notice and taking vacation for the two weeks. Not very helpful for filling their position.

I guess I am saying if they had the right to take the last two weeks of your notice time as vacation you should pay out the time since they didn't leave you scrambling for a worker or changing your plans.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hm. doesn't sound kosher to me. you gave plenty of notice, you did pay her for her vacation last year, and you haven't yet been there for a full year so i don't think you should have to pay her vacation again this summer.
without seeing the contract it's hard to say for sure.
but ethically i think you're off the hook.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

IMO, if you paid for it last summer and your end-date would be before the vacation would be taken, it would not be owed. Check the contract, though. It sounds like asking for PTO after you leave a company...they don't do that.

ETA: Did you end up paying her? I hope not. I think it is easy to let childcare become personal, when it's really business. I'm glad you realized that it's business and spoke up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I would look at the entire contract. Do you contract year by year like a lease, holding the spot for your child? You have already been there one year, did she renew the contract? When was her last vacation? You mention almost a year since the last vacation, are you talking about a week away?

I would treat it like an employer would. If the year has passed and she wasn't able to take vacation due to scheduling, then she should have prorated time on the books. In my employment, if I leave or am asked to leave, I am not compensated for ANY vacation time.



answers from Oklahoma City on


In child care it's pretty common for payment to be weekly even if your child misses days due to sickness or vacation or anything. Most centers will give you 2 weeks each year for full time kids where the parents don't bring the kids and they don't have to pay any funds to keep their child's spot.

So trying to make you pay her for 2 weeks when you are on vacation or not there isn't right, it is unethical completely.

Normally a person would pay for child care 50 weeks of the year. When a parent leaves they don't owe for something that no longer applies to them. You get to not pay her those two weeks of vacation. That's zero income for her if she closes especially because YOU have to pay another person to watch your kids.

YOU get to not pay her for a couple of weeks to go on vacation. You don't pay her for her vacation. Period.

Turn her in to the BBB and write a review on FB if your town has a business review page.


I have owned my own center. Going in we know that our contracts are pretty useless when it comes right down to it. Sure, it's a signed agreement but if you walk out she is not going to take you to court. She might file something against you but you just have to mention, in your credit report that this is a messed up thing and you don't owe the money.

She's known for months that you're leaving and she's probably got kids lined up to come.

Don't worry about it and let her know that you'll fight it if she tries to take you to court. Tell her "Okay, that's fine with me. I gave you 2 months notice and then you decided I owe for time my children won't even be enrolled for. So sorry. Take me to court, I'd like to have my time in front of the judge."

I think it's more hassle for a director to take time out to go to court and it's stupid for her to ask you to pay money you do not owe.

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