Working parents turn to employers for childcare help

Spiralling childcare costs could spark employees’ interest in workplace childcare benefits.

The Childcare affordability report, published by Family Investments in December 2012, found UK mothers were working up to four months of the year just to pay for care for their children.

Under changes implemented by the government last month, households where one parent earns £60,000 or more are no longer entitled to child tax credit and households where one person earns £50,000 to £60,000 have had their entitlement reduced.

This change, added to the rising cost of childcare, is causing some parents to consider staying at home instead of returning to the workplace. Ben Black, director at My Family Care, said: “The cost of childcare is massively prohibitive to women returning to work. The simple fact is that unless you are in the top 24% of household incomes, then the marginal benefits of the second parent working are incredibly small.”

The squeeze on working parents could also see more of them ask their employer for help, according to Iain McMath, managing director at Sodexo Motivation Solutions. He said employers were promoting childcare vouchers and other family-friendly benefits, but more could be done to help working parents, such as ending exclusion for the self-employed and raising the cap on childcare vouchers.

Susan Ball, director, employment tax and advisory services at Crowe Clarke Whitehill, said there was a flurry of activity when vouchers were introduced in 2005, but some employers were not pushing their schemes or explaining how, for example, both working parents can use the scheme.