Childcare vouchers suddenly stopped on SMP

(12 Posts)
user1466199170 Sun 19-Jun-16 20:28:41

I'm midway through maternity leave and my employer had been providing childcare vouchers and said they would continue to do so whilst I got SMP only. There's been a recent employment tribunal case that sided with the employer and on the back of this they've stopped my vouchers immediately. My googling tells me the tribunal case is a bit shaky. Does anyone know anymore or have any advice? My work don't seem to realise/care what a mess it's left me in.

RNBrie Sun 19-Jun-16 20:31:17

This is the third thread on here today about this topic!

Here is a link www.eversheds.com/global/en/what/articles/index.page?ArticleID=en/Employment_and_labour_law/Salary_sacrifice_benefits_during_maternity_leave

HMRC are supposed to be issuing updated guidelines but it looks like employers are within their rights to stop childcare vouchers.

flowery Mon 20-Jun-16 08:44:20

What do you mean 'a bit shaky'?

Given the recent ruling, it's not surprising employers are not longer paying for childcare vouchers, although it's a bit disappointing to withdraw them for people actually already on maternity leave and who have budgeted and planned on the basis they will receive them.

user1466199170 Mon 20-Jun-16 09:01:55

The tribunal judges said (I don't have the exact wording to hand) that they remained cautious they had not identified all the areas of legislation relevant and reached their decision tentatively. Loads of employment lawyers online are saying it's wrong and will be overturned if appealed.

My employer told me they would pay whilst on SMP only so aren't t
hey in breach of contract regardless?

user1466199170 Mon 20-Jun-16 09:21:15

This is the sort of thing I'm talking about.

www.menzieslaw.co.uk/blog-childcare-vouchers-and-maternity-leave-what-on-earths-happening/

CottonSock Mon 20-Jun-16 09:23:27

Do you have a written agreement with employer? My maternity letter states they will pay on smp and unpaid mat leave (I'm very lucky). I'm hoping this will mean they have committed and won't try and back out

user1466199170 Mon 20-Jun-16 09:49:34

No specific contract or agreement as such. Everything about maternity leave, pay & dates etc was dealt with via email with HR, it's on an email from they saying they will pay.

flowery Mon 20-Jun-16 10:36:24

Unless and until it is successfully appealed, it stands, and opinions of lawyers online that it might be overturned at some point in the future don't help you really. Your employer has obviously decided to follow the judgment as it is at the moment.

I think your best bet is to argue that email confirmation is contractual.

user1466199170 Mon 20-Jun-16 11:10:01

Thanks flowery I will. Do you know what sort of notice would be appropriate or should I jut argue they should honour it for the entire period as originally stated? Also HMRC still state they have to be paid, I know that's not legally binding as such but surely they can't claim the tax and NI savings if they're not treating as a true non-cash benefit.

flowery Mon 20-Jun-16 12:24:25

Aim high and argue for the whole period, I would.

It will be interesting to see the revised HMRC guidance as and when, and to find out whether they push back on the savings involved for employers.

This is one of those judgments where if not providing vouchers during mat leave involves big administrative changes, new policies etc etc, then an employer would probably be best waiting for further developments. But for some organisations that won't apply, and these are more likely to be smaller ones who are more likely to be thankful for not having to provide vouchers and seize on the opportunity not to do so unfortunately.

It will all become irrelevant fairly soon anyway as the childcare voucher system is changing.

user1466199170 Mon 20-Jun-16 15:03:56

That's the strange thing, I work for a big company who are supposedly family friendly, I expected better of them to be honest.

Changesofmind Mon 20-Jun-16 18:27:58

I've dealt with this issue a lot in practice. I have to say that the majority of situations that I have come across have been companies that have been unable to lawfully withdraw the vouchers as the salary sacrifice is a contractual arrangement. A change in the law would only affect schemes that are non contractual, or that have been varied through a change in terms and conditions exercise, or that contain a clause such as "childcare vouchers will be paid during maternity leave in line with legal requirements at the relevant time".

You need to check your salary sacrifice arrangement and raise a grievance if it's contractual and they have sought to vary that without your consent.

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