Kelly Mitchell: Prepare for childcare changes

With the upcoming changes to childcare vouchers in the autumn this year, now is the time for employers to act to ensure that their organisation and employees are prepared.

Mitchell Kelly- Home Group-2015

Some parents could potentially be worse off under the new tax-free childcare scheme, due to different conditions for eligibility and lower savings for some.

Once the tax-free scheme is introduced, employer-provided childcare voucher schemes will no longer be open to new applicants. However, employees already receiving childcare vouchers can continue to order these while their employer continues to run the scheme, or until their child is 15 years old (or 16 if disabled).

It is therefore an ideal time for employers to communicate theirĀ childcare voucher scheme to their employees, and to make them aware of the changes, to ensure that they have the opportunity to make the right choices.Ā 

Employers should speak to their provider to see if they can provide assistance.

Communication methods that we are using to engage and inform our staff include a ā€˜Congratulationsā€™ card when employees go on maternity or paternity leave containing information on childcare vouchers and links to family-related videos, webinars, emails and live chats.Ā 

It is also important for employers that use the savings that they gain from paying lower national insurance (NI) contributions to reinvest back into their benefits package to start planning for the potential reduction now.

Consideration could be given to introducing new salary sacrificeĀ arrangements that may be attractive to their employees, as well as to produce employer NI savings. These include cars, bikes for work, holidays, professional qualifications and mobile phones.

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Childcare vouchers are one of our most popular benefitsĀ on offer to staff,Ā so employers need to be already planning for the change by providing other benefits that appeal to working parents, including relevant retail discounts and a bespoke re-introduction back into the workplace when returning from maternity leave.

Kelly Mitchell is HR business partner, policy and reward at Home Group