On a public holiday such as Matariki or Good Friday, early childhood centres and home-based agencies close – only a relative few remain open for children.
Many services also take additional days off, such at Christmas time to give staff, parents and children a break.
Many services do not charge families for care when they are closed. But some do – they tell parents that if they don’t pay the service won’t be able to meet the cost of staff holiday pay and ongoing expenses when the service is closed such as lease costs. However, best practice among ECE services is to absorb or spread out the cost of holiday pay for staff over the fees for all families and across the year, and not ask parents to pay fees when they are closed.
Businesses such as cafes that open on a Public Holiday may add a surcharge or 10 – 15%, because businesses that operate must pay staff time and a half, but it is not known for early childhood services that remain open to charge a surcharge.
When closed on a Public Holiday can parents be made to pay their usual fee?
According to the Ministry of Education, whether or not a service can make parents and caregivers pay comes down to what parents agree to when they sign the enrolment form. If a parent has agreed and signed on the enrolment form that they will pay for care on any particular days when the service is closed, then the service legally can charge. It comes down to the individual service’s fees policy and what the parent has agreed to when signing up.
The Ministry of Education does not fund services over public holidays
The Ministry recognises that statutory holidays are holidays and will not pay funding to services on public holidays unless the service is open to children and staffed.
Advice to parents
Check before signing the enrolment agreement if the service is going to charge you for care when it is closed for holidays.
- You can ask the service about this, and it is up to you whether you sign that you agree or cross out the days of closure listed that you do not agree to still be charged fees for.
- You can choose to change your enrolment to a different service that does not charge for care not provided, or you can accept and build this cost into your childcare budget.
Most public holidays fall on a Monday and some on Tuesdays and Fridays. So, if you do not need full-time care and if you have a choice of days consider enrolling your child for Wednesdays and Thursdays only.