Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often but from time to time we are asked what happens if a childcare setting has to close due to having no water.
Having no water in itself doesn’t necessarily mean you need to close a place of work. Having no toilets, and often having no heating will sometimes make it necessary to close a setting. When we recently had no water we used a camping water tank to refill the toilet’s cistern and we used bottled water to full the kettle.
Despite what you may have read cold water and soap cleans hands just as effectively as warm water, and warm water can always be created with a kettle.
If you do decide you need to close a childcare setting staff would normally expect to be paid if they are ready, willing and able to work.
If you have a lay off clause in your employment contracts you may wish to exercise this. If you lay off staff because of closure of a place of work you will make a Statutory Guarantee Payment (SGP) of £31 for the first 5 workless days. This is paid to staff who are eligible. To be eligible you have to have been employed for at least 1 month. If you do not earn £31 per day, you will receive your day’s rate as your SGP. Please note Statutory Guarantee Pay (SGP) does change from time to time, whilst it is £31 per day at the time of writing, it may be more when you read this. Here’s a link to a ACAS article on lay off in inclement weather.
Typically water if off for only a few days, depending on what caused the issue in the first place.
All this being said if you can avoid lay off and paying SGP we would recommend you do. Lay off can be damaging to the psychological contract. If there is any flexibility then paying the staff and allowing them to work without the children in the setting is one possibility. Could you get training/meetings done to avoid them being held at a later date? Could staff perform any work from home? Would anyone like to take untaken annual leave?
Here’s another article about what happens if the setting is affected by snow.
If you need any assistance when your Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club doesn’t have water, please call us on 01527 909436.