Child care in the United Kingdom

Child care in the United Kingdom is supported by a combination of rights at work, public sector provision and private companies. Child care is usually undertaken by the parents, and more often the mother who takes leave from employment. Early childhood education in a creche or nursery is not freely available from the public sector, while fee paying pre-schools are.

Contents

History

Arguably the first pre-school institution was opened in 1816 by Robert Owen in New Lanark, Scotland.[1][2][3] The Hungarian countess Theresa Brunszvik followed in 1828.[4][5] In 1837, Friedrich Fröbel opened one in Germany, coining the term "kindergarten".

Leave from work

Rights to leave from work to care for children have important consequences for career advancement and gender equality.

Maternity leave

The major right, which goes beyond the minimum set by the Pregnant Workers Directive,[6] is a mix of paid and unpaid maternity leave. A contract of employment can always be and often is more generous. Otherwise, the minimum right to paid maternity leave arises for women employees after 26 weeks work, though the right to unpaid leave has no qualifying period.[7] Under the Maternity and Parental Leave, etc Regulations 1999[8] mothers must take compulsory leave at the time of child birth for two weeks. After that comes a right to 6 weeks' leave paid at 90 per cent of ordinary salary. Then is 20 weeks leave paid at a rate set by statute, which was £123.06 per week in 2010. This has to be at least the same level as statutory sick pay.[9] Then she may take additional but unpaid maternity leave for another 26 weeks.[10] She must tell the employer 15 weeks before the date of the expected birth, in writing if the employer requests it. Except insofar as they administer the payments, employers do not bear most costs of maternity leave as they are reimbursed by the government according to their size and national insurance contributions.[11] Along with different forms of leave, mothers have the right to not suffer any professional detriment or dismissal while they are absent, and should be able to return to the same job after 26 weeks, or another suitable job after 52 weeks.[12]

Paternity leave

UK employers are reimbursed by the government when employees take paid leave for child care.[13]

For fathers, the position is less generous. To redress the balance between how much of child raising each partner bears, under the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010[14] it will be possible for a women to transfer up to 26 weeks of her leave entitlements to her male partner. Otherwise the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 state that a man is entitled to a minimum of just 2 weeks off, at the statutory rate of pay.[15]

Parental leave

Both parents may also benefit from "parental leave" provisions in the MPLR 1999, passed after the Parental Leave Directive.[16] Until a child turns 5, or a disabled child turns 18, parents can take up to 13 weeks unpaid leave.[17] Unless there is another collective agreement in place, employees should give 21 days notice, no more than 4 weeks in a year, at least 1 week at a time, and the employer can postpone the leave for 6 months if business would be unduly disrupted.[18] Otherwise similar provisions apply on employees not suffering detriment or dismissal and having a right to their previous jobs back.[19]

Emergency leave

"Emergency leave" is, under ERA 1996 section 57A, available for employees to deal with birth or a child's issues at school, as well as other emergencies such as dependents' illness or death, so long as the employee informs the employer as soon as reasonably practicable. In Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors[20] Cox J emphasised that there is no requirement to deliver daily updates.

Requesting flexible working

Beyond the period around child birth, after EA 2002, employees gained the right to request flexible working patterns for the purpose of caring for a child under the age of 6, or a disabled child under age 18. The right to make the request is contained in ERA 1996 section 80F, and despite the fact that employers may decline the request, statistics show that under the obligation to consider, employers grant requests in 80 per cent of cases. An employee must make the request in writing, the employer must reply in writing, and can only decline the request on the basis of a correct fact assessment,[21] and within 8 grounds listed in section 80G, which generally concern business and organisational necessity. In Commotion Ltd v Rutty[22] a toy warehouse assistant was refused a reduction to part time work because, according to the manager, everyone needed to work full time to maintain "team spirit". The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that because "team spirit" was not one of the legitimate grounds for refusal, Mrs Rutty should get compensation, which is set at a maximum of 8 weeks' pay.[23]

  • Instituto nazionale della providenza social v Bruno [2010] IRLR 890, part time workers and occupational pensions
  • Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (c 22)

Pre school

Public nurseries

Private nurseries

Sure start

Children's Centres are expected to provide:

  • In centres in the 30% most disadvantaged areas: integrated early learning and childcare (early years provision) for a minimum of 10 hours a day, five days a week, 48 weeks a year; and support for a childminder network
  • In centres in the 70% least disadvantaged areas, which do not elect to offer early years provision: drop-in activity sessions for children, such as stay and play sessions
  • Family Support, including support and advice on parenting, information about services available in the area and access to specialist, targeted services; and Parental Outreach
  • Child and Family Health Services, such as antenatal and postnatal support, information and guidance on breastfeeding, health and nutrition, smoking cessation support, and speech and language therapy and other specialist support
  • Links with Jobcentre Plus to encourage and support parents and carers who wish to consider training and employment
  • Quick and easy access to wider services[24]

Other schools

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Vag, Otto (March 1975). "The Influence of the English Infant School in Hungary". International Journal of Early Childhood (Springer) 7 (1): 132–136. http://www.springerlink.com/content/9248527032015273/. 
  2. ^ New Lanark Kids: Robert Owen
  3. ^ education in robert owen's new society: the new lanark institute and schools
  4. ^ Budapest Lexikon, 1993
  5. ^ Public Preschool Education In Hungary: A Historical Survey, 1980
  6. ^ 92/85/EEC
  7. ^ Work and Families Act 2006 (c 18) abolished the qualification period for ordinary and additional maternity leave.
  8. ^ MPLR 1999 (SI 1999/3312) r 8
  9. ^ Boyle v Equal Opportunities Commission (1998) C-411/96, [1998] ECR I-6401
  10. ^ ERA 1996 ss 72-73 and MPLR 1999 rr 7-8
  11. ^ Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 s 167
  12. ^ MPLR 1999 rr 17-20
  13. ^ Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 s 167
  14. ^ APLR 2010 (SI 2010/1055)
  15. ^ PALR 2002 SI 2002/2788 r 6; See also Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (General) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2822)
  16. ^ 96/34/EC
  17. ^ MPLR 1999 rr 13-15
  18. ^ MPLR 1999 r 16 and Sch 2
  19. ^ MPLR 1999 rr 17-20
  20. ^ [2003] IRLR 184 (EAT)
  21. ^ ERA 1996 s 80H
  22. ^ [2006] IRLR 171 (EAT)
  23. ^ See Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2002 r 7 (SI 2002/3236)
  24. ^ Governance guidance for Sure Start Children’s Centres and extended schools Department for Education and Skills, 2007

References

External links


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