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Tea, Coffee, Sugar - Who Pays?


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I'm just after a quick straw poll on this if you don't mind. It's a long story and I won't bore you with the details, but basically it has come up as an issue that we are funding staff's tea, coffee, etc. and I'm not sure that this is right for us to do as a charity.

 

Obviously we're not really meant to spend government funding on this. We're also asking parents to pay a voluntary contribution to snacks, so it seems wrong in principle to then use their fee money to buy stuff for staff.

 

When I've worked in schools in the past, I've always had to provide my own drinks, including milk (they just use the kids' milk which I don't think really matters).

 

However, some people are upset at the idea that they should buy their own drinks because they see this as a pay back for all the stuff they do in their own time. Whilst I appreciate the extras they do, that's not really the point is it?

 

Please could I ask what happens at other settings? Thanks.

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In schools there is often a tea and coffee money collection where everyone pays a certain amount a term and tea, coffee, sugar, milk and sometimes biscuits are bought with the money. This works well in schools where there are a lot of staff so most will drink either tea or coffee, however if you have only a few staff I'm not sure how it would work if you had people who wanted herbal tea or decaff coffee or sweeteners or whatever.

 

I'm not sure funding it from the settings money should really be a problem though if you aren't going through a large amount, particularly since it's taking away little things like this that can really get staff down and sap morale. Is it costing an awful lot of money?

Edited by Guest
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In my previous setting (charity), tea/coffee came out of funds - the parents info pack explained that some of the fundraising money went on hot drinks. The committee saw it as a thank you. However I have worked in schools and private settings and we had to pay. 50p a week!!! (Private setting) and £1.50 a term ish for school or when the kitty became empty.

 

ppp

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I own my group and wouldn't thik of charging my staff for drinks. I have never paid for drinks in any job I have worked in and I don't think it matters that you are a charity, I have helped at charity events and the tea and coffee is always free to helpers. I don't ask for snacks either as it comes out of the money from the grants as keeping children healthy is part of the EYFS. We were told that we couldn't ask for donations because the funding goes towards keeping children healthy so should cover the cost of fruit and healthy snacks.

 

Don't know what others think but for me I provide tea coffee hot chocolate biscuits and the odd cake for my staff as a way of saying thank you for the effort they put in. They would be so angry if I asked for money :o

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The manager purchases tea coffee etc for us, but I know it can be costly, especially when one member of staff has heaps of coffee! Not sure how they'd feel about paying for their own drinks - not too happy I suppose.

 

At my school where I teach part time we have to pay £2 a week! I don't get any discount despite only being there a day and a half. If staff bring their own tea bags we only pay a £1, if we bring our own milk as well then we don't pay anything.

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I own my group and wouldn't thik of charging my staff for drinks. I have never paid for drinks in any job I have worked in and I don't think it matters that you are a charity, I have helped at charity events and the tea and coffee is always free to helpers. I don't ask for snacks either as it comes out of the money from the grants as keeping children healthy is part of the EYFS. We were told that we couldn't ask for donations because the funding goes towards keeping children healthy so should cover the cost of fruit and healthy snacks.

 

Don't know what others think but for me I provide tea coffee hot chocolate biscuits and the odd cake for my staff as a way of saying thank you for the effort they put in. They would be so angry if I asked for money :o

 

 

In a very similar situation to you - occasionally staff bring in their own cup-a-soups if that is what they want to have, but I buy the staples for them. Parents are also very generous at the end of term and buy us tins of biscuits etc. which keep the biscuit eaters happy!

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Ours is provided, mind you I do feel it's taking the micky when everyone one wants specifics.

We had a time when one wanted hot choc (happy to have cheap stuff I should add) one wanted red-tea, one herbal, and one decaf!...........and I was expected to shop for all these. In the end I said I would get basic tea and coffee, others could buy their own and claim the money back............guess what? everyone now drinks straight tea/coffee.

 

I think staff in pre-schools get such low pay they deserve a cup or coffee free, in schools the payrate is higher.

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Guest jenpercy

if you have alwayus paid, there is no issue, but taking this away is probably not worh the loss of good will. I have run a charity and no run my own business - even now when I'm losing money, I wouldn't dream of asking staff to pay. It's one of the little things that you can provide to make staff feel valued when you can't afford to give them a pay rise.

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However, some people are upset at the idea that they should buy their own drinks because they see this as a pay back for all the stuff they do in their own time. Whilst I appreciate the extras they do, that's not really the point is it?

I wouldn't dream of making staff pay for their own tea and coffee - goodness knows they earn little enough without making them pay for any extras. I don't see a problem with using funds to pay for staff drinks, but if the committee is concerned about it then why not use some of the extra funds you raise to do this, and make it clear to parents what the money is used for. I can't see why anyone would object - it is often the little things that keep the wheels of the group turning, and can be the very same little things that upset staff and bring the group to a grinding halt.

 

Staff morale can be very fluid, and groups (even private ones like mine) run on a high level of goodwill - if the message comes from the committee that staff will have to pay for their own drinks because the group won't provide the funds, they may well decide to start working to their contracts. I'm not sure the resulting shortfall in either hours worked or unpaid overtime would be covered by the money you would raise by charging staff for tea and coffee.

 

Who would collect this money, and how would you keep track of who had paid what and when? This would seem to place another administrative burden on a committee member for very little gain.

 

Good luck with sorting this out!

 

Maz

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I work at a Preschool based in a Leisure Centre and we use a shared kitchen. It used to be that Preschool bought all the tea, coffee and milk every week. For the last 6 months every member of staff that has tea or coffee contributes £1 per month. We always have extra milk left over from the Cool Milk we receive for the children, so we use that for tea and coffee. We have had to inform the Leisure Centre staff that the milk is not to be used for protien drinks though as the milk was vanishing too quickly. I only work term time, so only contribute during those months. Nobody seems to mind this method.

Hope this helps.

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In my last and present setting (both charities) tea, coffee and sugar was/is provided and comes out of the food bill. We use milk from Cool Milk.

 

Staff get paid so little, work so hard, do so much in their own time being paid by the hour - I really think that is the point. Where would settings be if staff worked only the hours they were paid for?

 

On special occasions we bring in something special and pay for it ourselves.

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We are a committee run, charitable preschool and we've never been charged for staff drinks. The money for this is not taken out of the children's funding but from other fund raising we do (staff do thiis for nothing I might add!!!). I would not be happy if I had to pay for this now. We have a small staff so are provided only with the basic tea and coffee etc. Where would we be if we started to charge the parent helpers for their drinks......anarchy and mutiny I daresay! :o

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Hi, thanks for the responses.

 

I know I sound mean but there's a long and convoluted reasoning behind all this (involving charging for overtime when it was not justified).

 

We have given staff a pay rise two years running, and we pay staff overtime plus an hour for planning and an hour for profiles. Plus we have a cash bonus scheme for doing responsibility posts.

 

Money is going to be tight this year due to high ratios and something has got to give. It's trying to get across the principle that you can't have high ratios, lots of overtime and perks too!

 

I think what I'll do is make a donation myself to the setting to pay for tea and coffee.

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If money is going to be tight due to high ratios and bonuses it sounds fairly serious. Is charging or donating for tea and coffee really going to make that much difference. Off the top of my head perhaps a terms tea and coffee is less than one sessions pay? Perhaps more significant savings should be made and do not risk the goodwill of the staff (who I must say do seem to be very well looked after by you)

Edited by Chill
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Are the staff aware of how tight the money is? I'm meeting with staff tomorrow to show them last years accounts to see if we can work together to find some savings. We spent £2000 more than we had come in last year (I wasnt chair then)!!

I've found some savings they are aware of but thought they might be able to find others, or at least to be aware of how little we have to spend this year without a great deal more fundraising. (Also need a committee)

One problem I and the playleader have identified is that, since we increased the fee's more and more parents are waiting for the funding before they come to us. Do we decrease, leave alone, soldier on?

 

 

I certainly wouldnt make staff pay for drinks though. I've worked places where it can get a bit silly, thats her milk, those are her T-bags, it was uncomfortable to say the least. I put staff drinks in te catagorie of refreshments, along with the childrens snack and food for parties or events. They already have shops own brand stuff and I'm such a coffee snob I have to be desperate to drink it.

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Our school provides coffee, milk and sugar, anything else the staff are to provide for themselves. we also have a rota on a friday (for those who want to join) where we each take turns in bringing in some form of a treat for friday. This has been fantastic and resutled in a wide range of goodies from cakes to bacon sandwiches.

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we too used to supply tea and coffee and milk... staff supplied any sugar if they used it and any other refreshments, like decaf, herbal teas soups etc... milk was always left from children's allowance so was not an issue.

 

How much is the actual cost of a jar of coffee and tea a month,( maybe limit amount you buy and if it is gone they have to provide the rest...) will it really make that much of a saving.. When we looked we found that it really was not much. We saved most by parents donating fruit and snacks.. and in our case buying cleaning products when on offer.

 

It was a small amount to pay for the extra done over and above by the staff.. we too paid overtime and non contact time and this still did not cover all the extra they did actually do.

 

When you have visitors or students are you asking them to pay as well...or expecting the staff to supply this?

 

Inge

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Hi again

 

We made an operating loss last year of over £3,000 (which I highlighted as one of the first jobs in my new role as Manager). Hopefully this was a transition period with adjustments having to be made to ensure correct ratios, tax, NI and holiday pay paid correctly etc. The fees were too low too so they were increased for the second year running by 50p an hour to £3.50 per hour. Our forecast so far for this year looks ok in that we are just about covering our costs but that is at minimum staffing levels which is not ideal.

 

The biggest cost is staff wages. Staff don't get paid overtime, unless for something very specific occasionally. We get paid 2.5 hours planning per week and 1.5 hours keyperson time and we still rely on good old goodwill for a lot of jobs (which I know from experience also includes committee members who often show a huge commitment to the setting). Is the cost of tea/coffee really going to make a big dent in the budget compared to the loss of goodwill? Could you ask the staff for suggestions as to how to make the savings, like Rea - perhaps you have already done that. Staff have been very accepting of our situation because I have laid everything in front of them to see and explaining that we have to be sustainable.

 

Rea - I don't know how much your fees are but I can't imagine they would be excessive. Personally I think fees should equate at least to the NEG, which is my aim for next year, especially as the under 3's actually cost twice as much to staff. I would be very reluctant to reduce fees, they are the only fair way to ensuring that everybody pays towards the service rather than the same few people who get involved in the fundraising.

 

It's a struggle isn't it!

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Rea - I don't know how much your fees are but I can't imagine they would be excessive. Personally I think fees should equate at least to the NEG, which is my aim for next year, especially as the under 3's actually cost twice as much to staff. I would be very reluctant to reduce fees, they are the only fair way to ensuring that everybody pays towards the service rather than the same few people who get involved in the fundraising.

 

It's a struggle isn't it!

 

 

Deb, our fee's were £6.00 for 2.5 hours and it just wasnt paying, so we increased them to £8.50, just about the same as our funding is. Now we have less fee payers, so I'm thinking of a solution. If this trend continues it wont pay, and on top of that, if we dont get the under 3's they might just wait till they're 3 and go to any of the other local nurseries instead of us. Its easier to have the 3 yr olds if they've been to us as 2.5 yr olds.

 

And yes, it is a struggle. If only they knew!!

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I would feel very sad if we were unable to provide a drink for the staff out of our total income. If the staff decide to like fancy teas, and something unusal well then they can bring it in themselves.

However if finances were a little dire i would certainly be looking somewhere else first before taking this gesture of goodwill away.

By the way we are a registered charity pre-school too. :(:oxD

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Its easier to have the 3 yr olds if they've been to us as 2.5 yr olds.

 

I know what you mean Rea, perhaps my aspirations are too idealized.

 

If you're fees have only just gone up in September, might your numbers improve as parents become accustomed to the price increase?

 

We are fortunate that our numbers have remained stable from last year to this, with roughly the same numbers of children. We seem to have benefitted from the increase in the funding to 15 hours too. Though it is difficult to predict how the single funding formula will affect us if it does come into effect in April. Ours has been deferred for a year until April 2011. We would have been worse off by around £750 had it come into affect in April, 2010.

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Thanks to everyone who replied. It was never really a 'saving money' issue, more a point of principle after something specific happened that I can't really relate on here.

 

Anyway we are going to continue funding this but unfortunately I've had to put in an overtime ban for the time being, we have to make the books balance somehow!

 

It's not easy being committee when you are putting in endless hours for free but only ever hear complaints and never get thanked. Oh well, I guess at least I can quit whenever I want!!

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