Karen Thomson: Emergency childcare must be flexible 

With all the legislation surrounding what working parents are entitled to when it comes to childcare arrangements, it can so often be confusing to say the least. However, an employer, regardless of what legislation dictates they must do, should instead consider the benefits of being flexible, and perhaps offering tax-saving schemes such as a salary sacrifice arrangement for childcare vouchers to help to cut costs too.

I can utterly understand some of the frustration, particularly for smaller employers, because there are so many childcare, and emergency childcare, options available now.

One option is working from home, and while I am not suggesting that employers should, or can always accept, that a person can work with children running around, often parents will use some form of daycare facility and work around their commitments, such as school hours and housework.

But emergencies will arise when it comes to children and no parent is likely to be able to ignore the school saying they must collect them, or the pleas of a sick child, so should employers?

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Employers can offer employer-supported childcare facilities, for example, an on-site crèche, or perhaps get together with a group of employers to provide a nursery within a complex. This means when there is an emergency, working parents are on-site and the best bit is it is not taxable, even if offered for free.

Karen Thomson is director, group payroll services at Armstrong Watson