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Decreasing Hours

Guest terrydoo73

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Guest terrydoo73

Our Playgroup opened on Monday 24. I was offered employment as Leader back in September but had to get clearance so didn't get employment until 13 December. By 11 January our Registration was approved and we officially opened as I said on Monday 24. So this is our second week as such ...


Bear in mind I wrote all 40 policies on my own, personally handed out leaflets to all the villagers as well as placing advertisements in the local press (about 5 in total) and establishing contact with the local primary school and toddler groups. I also had to buy sufficient resources, draw up possible planning sheets etc. I had literally 7 days to do this before Christmas and New Year.


It was agreed with the Committee that I would buy the resources, that the Committee would appoint 2 other staff members, my Deputy and an Assistant and that the hours of working for these 2 staff members would be 20 per week and mine 25. I therefore start 3/4 hour before the children arrive - buying the food on the way to work and ensuring all the Playgroup is set up ready to go - paint in pots, water in the tray etc etc. After the children leave each day we are allotted a 1/2 hour time to clean by ourselves with a further 3/4 hour set aside for planning, observations, assessments etc.


Since our Open Day our Committee has now informed us that because of 2 members objections there will not now be a third member of staff employed but rather Committee volunteers will cover the shortfall. Also these same 2 members are questioning the resources that have been bought and appear to still being bought by their estimation. Today I have been informed that these 2 members feel it is not appropriate to pay me for the extra 3/4 hour in the morning and 1/2 hour in the afternoon so want me to cut back my hours with immediate effect.


I was totally shocked to say the least but I am now wondering if we will get paid at all for what we have worked for the month of January - it is now into February and there is no sign of it.


The Committee has received funding to pay for resources, staffing etc etc so there is no problem in this respect.


I feel I have failed in the sense that although the Playgroup is registered for 12 we only have 4 little ones coming in some days. There are at present 4 full timers, 2 part timers with a further 3 full times to come on board as they reach their third birthday - that should happen by the end of May. This is what I feel these particular Committee members are pulling up on - we don't have 12 coming in every day so therefore don't need 3 staff members, that now Registration has been completed we don't need to be buying anything more, that because we only have 3 children we shouldn't need to do paperwork in detail as we would for 12 children if we had them!!


I personally don't think I should have to justify myself to the Committee - they employed me and should therefore have full confidence in my professional capacity. They did not help in any way to drum up children to attend the Playgroup and appear to be carrying stories about the children we are working with at present. It has even got to the point of questioning why we have bought a kettle for less than £5 - surely we shouldn't need to take any tea/coffee breaks etc etc.


Sorry for the rant but just feel so humiliated at present and wonder if I should just step back and say enough is enough and let them go to the second choice of leader. I know I shouldn't take it personally but I just feel I don't need this hassle - if I don't have 100% Committee backing now at the outset when will I ever really have it?


What should we do? I just feel so at a loss and overwhelmed at it all as well as being extremely angry.

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Terrydoo I honestly feel for you and I'm in a similar situation myself with my committee.


I don't think it's fair they are cutting your hours. Call a meeting immediately and speak to a support advisor if you have one. Mention EYFS and the need for regular planning meetings etc.


I know a lady who turned around to hers as the want to cut her hours too. She does what she can do in playgroup hours and leaves a pile with a note saying what is left to do and when it needs to be completed as she is not paid outside hours to do it. Not spoke to her to see how it is going but can't imagine it is going down too well.


I do way way too much outside my hours and only get paid 20hrs a week - I'm going to start recording all the extra hours and present them too them and see what they say. Might try a simialr approad myself.


You need to get it sorted now and let them know the support you need and expect from them. Shame you couldn't have set up privately :o Unless committee members have experience in this line of work I don't feel they can ever justify how much we do or need to do x

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It does seem unfair. It might be worth trying to see why the committee have been asking for the cutbacks. Could it be that the funding they have been given to set the group up has been cut or they are having to justify spending to the body who supplied the funding? If so the pressure might be coming from an external source and if you can open a dialogue with the committee it might be to all your benefit as you could support each other to justify the need for the staffing levels and the resources. It might also be useful to see if they would allow you the extra member of staff on the grounds that you could advertise you have better than required ratios so parents might feel more inclined to bring their child to you. It's something we've been doing to explain away our large numbers of staff on some days!

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You need a meeting with all the committee and your deputy so all these things can be gone through rather than having things passed to you.

As chair I can see why they might want to cut hours, we have it in our staff contracts as a step we can take when numbers and therefore fee's are low. I recall years ago having one child in the afternoon session with 5 staff so we had a rota of when 3 of us would be off, unpaid. It helped keep the playgroup open. What are the committee objections to having a third member of staff?

What does your contract say with regards to hours, you might need to check.


Settings often take a while to get going so starting with 3 children isnt a failure, no matter how much we advertise, word of mouth always brings in more people. Give it time, maybe hold an open day in a few weeks so everyone can see the kinds of things you do.


I presume you have your receipts for all the resources you bought? Take a copy of them and hand them to your treasurer. That money is yours, remind them of that.


Will any committee be there next week when your EY visit? It would be very helpful if they were so they can clearer understand the paperwork aspect, but I have to say if you have 3 children while the paperwork will need to be detailed it shouldnt be taking you as long as if you had 12 so maybe thats why they want to reduce hours for now.


I can understand a little more about the issues you're having around the child who is causing you a bit of a headache. If you only have three children, and I think you said they were all girls, this little lad sounds as if he's given you a culture shock. He really does sound normal and lively and exploring.


Try not to let this stress you out. You have worked hard to open a playgroup, you are worrying that you havent got enough children, you are concerned about a childs behaviour and your deputy has spoken out in front of the children. The committee are changing things before you've even begun and are questioning your choices. That is an awful lot to have going on, you need to be careful of your health. If you're stressed it will reflect in your work which will reflect in how soon people want to come to your playgroup! Get a meeting set up to discuss everything so you know where you stand. :o

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Committees come and go.. some are good, others awful, some want to 'take charge' even with no knowledge at all, others ignore all and let you get on with it. Some back you others want to run you...


lots of issues so will try to give my view on some of them,


I would get together with the Chair and have a very honest and open discussion ( but that is my way , so may not be your choice) My reason being you need to state your view and let them know how much of their work you have done so far... as a minimum they should be going the advertising and getting the children booked in etc.. so would make it clear that I would no longer be taking that role.. Policies should be done with the committee and although I used to do them, they all had to spend time reading and approving them.. I assume they have done this.


Wages.. I would ask where they are... you need to be paid... ask if you could be given a regular date when you will be paid in furure.. last day of the month? last Friday of the month? or what?


Resources.... ask what they expect you to spend.. ask for a budget to work with.. give a detailed breakdown of what you need/use as a minimum - may only be a few children but they all need the same as if there were more children..


Staffing.. going to be controversial here.. with few children have to agree 3 staff would be a luxury.. even with 12 children every day... while good to have it is not essential , unless there is some particular reason , child with additional needs, layout of setting... we used to have 3 when we went over 10 children but were flexible in that we added staff if the children needed it, usually beginning of term for settling them in.. we used to have the 3 staff but 2 were job share adding the hours when needed- reducing when needed..could this be a suggestion so you have staff to call on for sickness etc.

if they do cut staff then I would suggest to them that if committee are going to be used they need to be regular volunteers as they will need to know what to do if someone is sick and end up as needed to be counted in ratio and not just a spare hand. So they need to work out a rota and give the time and commitment to become involved in the daily running of a session.


Thinking out loud here.. how will if affect ratios and staffing if you were off sick and they had to cover you with a committee member.. would you be legal, have correct qualifications in the setting?


Cutting hours.... list what you do in the time they are cutting and give it to the committee saying they will now have to do this as you have insufficient time... see what the outcome is.. sometimes shock tactics help... being unaware of the importance of this time and the need for it.. and also keep a time sheet of all you do unpaid out of hours anyway... list exactly what you do and give it to them.. you can always ask if one of them will take on this work as you are unable to do all this unpaid.


Justify yourself to committee.... they are your employers.. we all have to justify ourselves to them no matter where you work.. so sorry but I do feel you need to - but they need to understand that they have employed you for your expertise and listen to advice.


I am assuming you are not a pack-away setting.. as you say it is putting out the resources not the equipment - this would add extra issues which you would need to address.


apologies if I have upset any of the good committee members I know are out there... but have just added a few thoughts to the mix which may help (or not)

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Hi there,


Lots of useful answers already.


I'm chair of committee but work very closely with my leader, and have done for over 2 years, so have a sense of what it's like from both sides.


What I suspect has happened is that your committee have looked at the money side of things and panicked, then acted without talking things over with you properly. I always make sure our leader attends committee meetings so she has a sense of things like cash flow and why we might have to put an overtime ban in place at times. I also always write a letter explaining any financial decisions to the staff, so that they understand why I might have to pull in the reins at times.


You seem to be getting quite a lot of time after session (an hour and a quarter per day?). That has to be paid for somehow, the only income your setting will have is funding. 12 children is going to earn them just over £40 an hour which sounds quite a lot but once you factor in 3 staff, rent, bills, HMRC, etc. it is hardly anything. My staff get half an hour and we are a full packaway. They get an extra hour one day a week for a staff meeting, but I couldn't afford that kind of overtime every day and we are quite full this year. We do however pay the leader 3 hours a week admin time, as there is a lot of paperwork to do.


In terms of resources, did they set you a budget for those and did you stick to it? If that's the case, give them the receipts and insist on payment. However, it would be far better to have an account set up, so the setting gets invoiced and you don't have to pay out from your own money. The same goes for food - can the setting have an account with a local supplier? We just go with our very closest organic farm, they bring along a box of fruit and veg once a week and invoice us termly. For milk, register with coolmilk and they will do all the paperwork and this will be free.


Your committee should be responsible for things like advertising, and the whole employment side of things. That is their job and presumably is not in your job description.


However, do bear in mind that it is not easy being on a committee, nor working in a committee run setting. I would have a long hard think about whether this is the job for you. My staff all do unpaid overtime sometimes, I don't expect it from them and they know I will pay them whenever I possibly can if finances allow, but it is a fact of life in a voluntary run setting that money is always tight.


In terms of changes to your contract, I believe the rule is a month's written notice. You should speak to ACAS, they have a very useful helpline and will advise you better.


Good luck!

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Don't new businesses take 3 years to become profitable? Please don't feel you are the blame for not being full -this will build in time, and I think that you have done very well to get so many children in so quickly. As your reputation builds, so will numbers. No advice, just my support and best wishes - I would love my dd to go to a small setting like this.

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Guest terrydoo73

We are given half an hour a day for cleaning duties - washing snack dishes, toilets, brushing floors, emptying water trays, cleaning paint pots etc etc. This is to follow immediately after the children leave - it may sound excessive but we have to ensure everything is hygienically clean??


Our setting is in one room for the main playroom with a corridor outside leading to the toilets and kitchen. So we have to accompany the children to the toilets with 1 hovering in the hall way and the other hovering in the toilet door. This is I know not ideal but with our situation it is the only way to deal with the problem. Some mornings we spend a lot of time in the toilet area with washing hands, toileting etc etc. So the fact that we have 1 1/4 hours every day includes the cleaning time.


We do not have any administrative help either in terms of paid employment or volunteers so when I started I specifically asked for 2 1/2 hours a week for this purpose to be included in my salary and they were quite in agreement with this.


The Committee have received funding which has built up over the past number of years and has been earmarked for salaries as we do not receive much from the parents - £10 per child per week!! The Committee received funding to provide the playroom toilets, office etc so the money is not an issue as such but perhaps because it is suddenly being used this is maybe a problem!


I have stuck very rigidly to the amount of money allocated to me for resources at the beginning and I think what might be annoying members is the fact that resources were still arriving which as you might be aware do sometimes take time to arrive as they are on special order. They were all accounted for but what we added to this in terms of personal donations cannot be accounted for if you understand me!


No I do not feel it is unreasonable asking for a third member of staff - our volunteers are not aware of the issues regarding vulnerability with the bathroom issue and do not have any participation in the planning, observation or assessment. In fact they have the opinion that they are there to provide the snack which I have tried to show them is not the case. We are 2 people doing 3 peoples jobs and it is not our problem that the 3rd member decided to go elsewhere - the Committee had agreed to have 3 people but now are going back on their word which I have an issue with!

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Hi, now that you've explained the toilet thing it makes sense that you need 3 people.


Do committee realise that a volunteer cannot be left alone with children and that this must be properly vetted staff? Maybe get one of them to call the Ofsted helpline and get Ofsted to spell it out for them.


Could I ask where all this funding has come from and also why parents are only paying such a small amount?


When I've had to talk to our setting leader about changes to her hours, she has always said she doesn't mind at all, because if the setting has to close she would not have a job.


It's worth understanding that from committee side of the fence (unpaid volunteer, responsible for scary amounts of legal and technical stuff) it can feel very overwhelming at times.

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Can I ask who is making up your committee? If you only have 3 children it obviously isn't parents also where has their funding come from to allow them to build it up over the years?

If it is any consolation I would never work with less then 3 staff. Our toilets are off the hall and children have to be accompanied. If we were to have even just 6 children in and staff in toilet there would be nobody if phone rings, another child had an accident or people knock on door. In your case you cannot afford not to be showing people around or answering your phone and for that you need the bodies.


It is difficult but as OP has already said perhaps you need to meet with your committee and explain the why's and wherefores. If all else fails and you cannot be paid to clear up or safely set up a session then you will just have to open later and close earlier. I do know of a setting (staff) that threatened to do this, when in a similar situation to yourself. However it isn't something I would recommend as it is probably going to cause a lot of bad feeling. I think it goes with the territory- unpaid work in voluntary settings. I get one morning a week supernumerary and am paid one hour per month for any extra work I do and really that is laughable when you think of what I do!! However there is just not the money to pay any more so no point moaning about it. Again, a new business' can take ages to become established, so dont worry too much about that. I would suggest your committee work a little harder on obtaining new 'clients' which is after all 'their job' and a little less time on trying to replace (presumably) experienced and qualified staff.

Good luck- let us know how it goes- this is always a good place to let off steam without repercussions :o

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Hi terrydoo73 firstly it will take sometime to build up your provision so don't panic about that.

Not sure what area you are in but there are lots of business support training to help with increasing capacity, cash flow issues etc which maybe useful for you or your committee in the future.

Secondly i would certainly always insist on a minimum of three staff members at each session, irrespective of how many children you have. My reasoning for this has been that if you had to take a child to hospital in a medical emergency and lets hope we never have to it still leaves two staff on the premises.

Maybe a friendly chat with the committee could possibly resolve some of your concerns.

Wishing you well. :o

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