As a self-employed person, you can set your own fees. There are some important things to consider before you put together a list of what you are going to charge…
· The demand for Childminding in your local area. You need to check your local Children's Information Service listings to get an idea of local vacancies and what other minders are charging;
· Whether you will ask for a retainer or a deposit to reserve their place . The following might help you decide what to do for the best regarding deposits vs retainers
- A deposit is – the parent and childminder decide when a place is available / required and the parent pays a one-off payment to hold the place open until then. The deposit is usually repaid to the parent out of the first month’s fees or it can be held by the childminder until the end of the contracted period. If the place becomes unavailable or the terms are changed, the childminder must, by law, refund the full deposit. If the parent decides they don’t want the place, the childminder keeps the money. ** Please note, I have talked more about deposits on the next page...
- A retainer is usually half normal fees and may be charged if a place is immediately available but a parent does not want to take it for a while. Retainers are for the childminder to keep unless the place is not available when the parent wants it, in which case they must be repaid in full. You cannot charge a retainer on an unborn baby.
· The impact your Childminding business is likely to have on your household expenses. For example, if you have usually been out at work every day, you will notice a sharp increase in your heating and lighting bills as you will be working from home;
· National Insurance contributions and tax.
Note that if you are low income or caring for your own children, you can apply for National Insurance exception. When you apply, they tell you that this might affect your pension – so get a pension check as well. The taxable limit for self employed people changes every year. I have talked about this in more detail on my Tax page;
· The average wage of the people who are asking you about childcare. There is little point overpricing yourself if your customers cannot afford you;
· Whether parents are eligible for Tax credits, which might pay some of their fees. There is a useful online calculator here;
· How well qualified you are to do your job. You might consider offering an initial starting rate, which will rise when you have more experience. This might help you to become established;
. Do not forget other costs such as food, baby wipes, baby food and outings. You need to decide whether to bill these separately or include them within your fees.
When completing contracts, consider what you will charge –
· If you or a family member is sick;
· If you or a minded child take a holiday;
· If a child simply does not turn up on a scheduled day – and whether this will be different if the no show is because of inclement weather / a family death / parents deciding to take an unexpected day off etc;
· If a minded child attends other settings, such as morning nursery and coming to you in the afternoon, whether you will be the emergency contact and charge half or full fees;
· Whether you will offer a discount for siblings;
· If you offer (or parents ask you to offer) a lengthy settling-in period, at what point you will ask parents for payment;
· If parents are late and whether late fees will be applied immediately or at what point you will apply the charges if they are consistently late over a few sessions;
· If a child is sent home ill;
· Are there any special circumstances when you might offer free care eg a family funeral?
Do not forget when you set out your charges to include a renewal date, when you might increase your fees.
Your fees policy – which you should give to parents at the same time as their contracts, so everything about how you intend to run your business is transparent, should state –
- When you expect payment to be made;
- Whether you want to be paid in advance or arrears and how you will handle extras such as overtime or late payments;
- What you will do if parents do not pay you – including reserving the right to pursue parents for payment via the small claims court or by instructing your insurance company;
- What you will do if a cheque or payment bounces;
- Whether you accept voucher payments and what will happen if they are late.