Julian Foster: Emergency childcare is a necessity

Were you woken up this morning by a phone call from the childminder, who has gone down with the flu?

Or perhaps your child’s nursery has had to close because the drains need work, or your parents have decided to go on a last-minute cruise for a break from their grandparenting duties?

There can be various reasons why childcare arrangements can break down. Parents do not want to let their employer down, but if their childcare fails at the last minute, they may feel their only option is to use annual leave or work from home. Emergency childcare can be a solution.

Childcare vouchers, which staff can buy via a salary sacrifice scheme, can be used to pay for all types of registered childcare and so can be useful when emergency care is needed. Using vouchers helps parents find the money to pay for unexpected childcare at the last minute.

Parents should use e-vouchers rather than paper vouchers to make it easier to switch payments. They can manage their account with their voucher provider online, including which carer is paid and how much, so if they need to swap carers in an emergency situation, it is covered.

Employers can help working parents to access emergency childcare by publishing a list of Ofsted-registered local nurseries and childminders on their intranet.

Where possible, employers should also look at initiating family-friendly policies across the workplace, such as an in-house crèche or flexitime.

Julian Foster is managing director at Computershare Voucher Services