PARENTS are being fined up to £50 a time if late picking up their kids from after-school clubs.
In the past year, mums and dads have been forced to cough up £151million.
Primary school clubs are offered to parents who work and need to drop their kids off early, pick them up late, or both, as an alternative to childminding services.
But they can be a false economy once the late pick-up penalties are added, research by insurer Direct Line found.
For after-school care, parents are typically charged £9 a session. But one school charged £22, for a club running from the end of classes at 3.10pm to 6pm.
Breakfast clubs are around the same price.
But turning up late for pick-up from after-school clubs means the costs can ratchet up. In some cases, no fine is levied but in others it can be a nasty sting.
Some schools charge a flat-rate fine, while others demand £1 a minute for lateness.
The research, based on a survey of more than 2,000 parents, found the fines cost parents on average £25.10 a year — but one in 25 of those surveyed, which works out at 259,000 parents nationally, shelled out more than £100.
Parents face a lottery on club prices, too, because fees vary wildly from town to town and school to school. Costs in London are particularly high.
Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “With long working hours and people having to commute from their place of work, it can be difficult for parents to ensure they pick up their children on time, leaving parents to rely on the generosity of friends and family to avoid charges for late pick-ups.
“Despite their best intentions, this is not always possible and people are being stung by huge and sometimes disproportionate fines for extended wraparound care.”
£10 for three minutes
MUM-of-two Roxie Taylor was charged £10 for being just three minutes late to collect two-year-old daughter Savannah, below, back in January. The 30-year-old from Salisbury, Wilts, says:
“I’d taken Savannah to nursery as usual but my youngest daughter Darcie had a doctor’s appointment, which overran.
“I called the nursery straight away and said I’d be there in under five minutes. The lady I spoke to said it would be fine and asked if I’d mind if Savannah waited with older children in an after-school club.
“I said it was fine and no fee was mentioned. I ended up three minutes late and picked up Savannah and nothing was said.
“But a month later she came home with a letter saying I owed a £10 late payment charge. I know it’s only £10 but it’s more the principle – I feel that if the nursery wanted to charge the fee it should have been upfront about it and should have explained how it had been calculated.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to has been really shocked about it. A lot of my friends say that even if there was a ten-minute window without repercussions and fees – not on a regular basis, but where circumstances can’t be changed – it would be good.”
£26 fine threat
FULL-TIME mum Masaya Riddell was told she would face a £26 charge when she was six minutes late to pick up her son Leo, who was two at the time. The 23-year-old, from Portsmouth, says:
“I got to my son’s nursery about six or seven minutes late.
“I only live about a ten-minute walk away but that day it took me half an hour to walk there as I was heavily pregnant at the time and I was struggling with swollen, painful feet.
“When I got there I was told I’d be charged £26 for being late, which is the cost of an entire day at nursery.
“The nursery said I would be marked as being late on the register and that I would need to see if I got an invoice.
“This was about five months ago but luckily I’ve not had an invoice yet.”