What Does it Mean When a Parent Gives a Two-Week Notice?

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“Parents must give a two-week notice before ending this contract. Payment for the notice period is due whether or not the child is brought to care during the notice period.”

The vast majority of family child care providers in the country have language similar to this in their contract.

Although it may sound simple enough, sometimes parents and child care providers have different interpretations of what this means.

Let’s look at two situations. In both cases a child care provider has the above language in her contract.

Situation #1

A parent gives notice on Wednesday October 3rd and has paid through the 3rd. The parent assumes she owes the child care provider for care through October 17th, two weeks from the 3rd. The child care provider tells the parent that the two-week notice starts on Monday, October 8th, so the parent owes through Friday, the 19th.

Who’s interpretation is correct? The parent.

There is nothing in the language of the contract that says that a notice period must always start on a Monday. This provider could add to her contract, “Whenever a parent gives a two-week notice, the notice period will begin on the first Monday following the giving of the notice to the child care provider.” Without such language, the parent would win if the child care provider tried to enforce her contract in court.

Situation#2

A parent gives her written notice on Tuesday, October 2nd and does not return after this date. She has paid through Friday, October 5th. The parent assumes she will owe for two weeks starting October 3rd through the 10th. Since she has already paid for three of these days (3rd-5th), she offers to pay for the remaining seven business days. The  provider believes the notice period starts on Monday the 8th, the first day the parent will owe money.

Who’s interpretation is correct? The parent.

Again, the provider’s contract does not say that a notice period only begins after paid days are used up.

In Summary

In both situations, the provider interpreted her contract in a way that was not consistent with what her contract actually said. Remember, because you are in control of your contract, you can put in almost any language you want.

One way to avoid these misunderstandings is to either ask parents what they think each paragraph of the contract says or tell the parents what you think it says. This can help bring out any different interpretations right away. If the parent doesn’t agree with your interpretation, change the language of your contract so it says what you want it to say. This should eliminate any misunderstandings later.

Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com

Image credit: www.nononsenselaw.com/contracts2.html

Contracts & Policies bookFor more information about contract and policies, see my book Family Child Care Contracts and Policies.



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