How to Respond to Complaints About Taking Time Off

Family child care providers work long hours each week. On average, providers care for children 11 hours a day and spend another 13 hours a week on business activities when children are gone. That’s 68 hours a week!

Many providers take very few vacation days or sick days. Most take only a few days off for holidays. When providers do take time off, they are usually not paid.

This is not true for every provider. Some providers do take more than two weeks of paid vacation and several weeks of paid sick days. Some providers have multiple paid holidays and a week or more of paid personal days as well.

But, in general, providers take many fewer paid days off than the parents they serve.

When a parent complains

Recently a provider contacted me about a parent who was upset with her whenever she took time off, was closed for illness, and even when the provider had once asked her to pick up her child early to visit a doctor.

The provider wanted to know what the law was about taking breaks. She told me she worked about 60 hours a week and took two paid weeks off a year for a vacation.

How to respond

Here’s what I told her:

“Because you are self-employed, there are no laws about taking breaks. So, you can take as many breaks as you want and you can decide whether to charge for them or not.

I think it’s reasonable to take paid sick days, vacation days, holidays and personal days. Be clear about this in your contract.

  • If a parent complains about you taking time off, tell them you are just following what’s in your contract.
  • If a parent still complains, you can ask them how many paid sick days and vacation days they get and say you want the same.
  • If the parent still complains, tell them you are now going to charge them a “complaining fee” every time they complain.
  • If the parent still complains, terminate her.”

You are responsible for setting your own rules about paid time off. Parents may not be happy with your rules. Finding backup care can be difficult.

But, don’t let a complaint by a parent ruin your day.

Caring for children 55 hours a week or more is a physically and mentally challenging job! You don’t need to apologize for taking paid time off.

How much paid time off you take each year?

Tom Copeland –

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For more information about dealing with parents, see my book Family Child Care Contracts & Policies.

Categories: Contracts & Policies

3 replies

  1. My holidays sick days, professional development days and vacation days are all spelled out in the parent handbook and also discussed during the initial interview. I discuss with parents about if they have backup arrangements available for those days and if not, my daycare may not be a good fit.

  2. I take two weeks paid vacation, one in March and one in June .. then of course just the regular holidays; labor, memorial, Christmas, thanksgiving and the like. I do not have any sick days, paid or otherwise … As a provider you also have to understand that people depend on you to be there and many people do not have a last minute option when you close. But, it is your business and you can run it anyway you like, I choose to have my dependability be my selling point.

    • I’m probably not the norm but having been licensed for over 30 years. I take all national holidays, 6 paid personal days and 3 sick days if needed. Parents pay for one week vacation at Christmas. I also take 2-3 weeks in the summer and a second week at Christmas. It is clearly spelled out in my contract. Most parents don’t have an issue with it.

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