childcare vouchers & mat leave

(46 Posts)
MrsRV Fri 03-Jan-14 20:21:48

umm... so, I've just found out I can still claim childcare vouchers while on mat leave without it affecting the statutory maternity leave I'll recieve? is this correct? despite working for a law firm, I know I'll have to fight to get this if it's correct so need to be sure of my facts... if anyone could help I'd be grateful.

Theonlyoneiknow Fri 03-Jan-14 20:22:56

Yes correct. I continued to get mine when on SMP.

You will get more traffic on this in Employment maybe.

diddlediddledumpling Fri 03-Jan-14 20:28:22

Yes, I got it too. Even when SMP stopped, still got the vouchers.

FoxyRevenger Fri 03-Jan-14 20:35:38

My work refused to give it, they said it was a grey area, legally speaking, and blackmailed us into pushing for it by saying they would have to discontinue the scheme completely. Hope you have more luck than I did!

clara85 Fri 03-Jan-14 20:35:59

I have heard this too and friends who work for the NHS have got it....

My work policy states I must inform then before i about 16 weeks so they can stop the child care vouchers so I assume you can only get away with this if you dont inform your work early enough?

FoxyRevenger Fri 03-Jan-14 20:36:32

Sorry, blackmailed us in to NOT pushing for it...

Bagoffrogs Fri 03-Jan-14 20:41:59

Bit grainy in the back of my mind, but I'm sure this was pointed out to me by my HR department in a sort of 'we shouldn't point this out, but' kind of way. Your company/ government (can't remember which) still provide these for you.

everydayaschoolday Fri 03-Jan-14 20:44:22

I'm currently MoD (Armed Forces), and I continued to get the Childcare Vouchers (salary sacrifice) while on maternity leave. I don't know how much is legislated in law, and how much is the excellent maternity package from my employer - I think it might be similar/same level as the NHS.

rachyconks Fri 03-Jan-14 20:47:22

I work for a large tour operator and my understanding is I will continue to receive the vouchers whilst on mat leave. I will only receive SMP. I believe, legally, the company has to continue with benefit if they are still offering it to other staff. (That's what it said in my childcare voucher pack).

BikeRunSki Fri 03-Jan-14 20:50:47

Yes, I got them, on SMP and on the last 3 months mat leave on nil pay.

everydayaschoolday Fri 03-Jan-14 20:53:49

In the FAQ of the MoD's Sodexo Childcare Voucher facilitator, they provided this answer (copy and pasted verbatim) to 'Will Childcare Vouchers affect my Statutory Maternity Pay or Paternal Pay':

Regulations in force for babies born after 5th October 2008 mean that you have 3 options in relation to your Childcare Vouchers whilst on Maternity Leave.

Option 1 - You can withdraw from the Childcare Voucher Scheme (this must be no later than 23 weeks before your baby is due). This will ensure that your SMP calculations are based on your higher salary (not including your salary sacrifice deductions). If you withdraw from the Scheme your Childcare Vouchers would cease from this date.
Option 2- You can remain in the Childcare Voucher Scheme during Maternity Leave. Your SMP will then be calculated at the lower rate (after salary sacrifice deductions). As your SMP is being calculated on your lower salary, no further deductions can be taken off SMP. Therefore whilst you are on Maternity leave and receiving SMP, your voucher costs will be covered by the company and you will continue to receive your Childcare Vouchers during this time.
Option 3- A woman may opt out of the childcare voucher scheme during the period which SMP is calculated. This is 8 weeks between approximately week 17 and week 25 of pregnancy. A woman could opt out during this period and then re-join the scheme after week 25 which means the company would cover her vouchers during her maternity leave and her SMP would not be affected.
Before making your decision, you should seek advice from any relevant agencies in relation to tax credit implications or ongoing childcare costs. The obligation for the company to provide vouchers only occurs in respect of a woman who already has one qualifying child on the voucher scheme.

everydayaschoolday Fri 03-Jan-14 20:56:10

Link for page that info came from.

rachyconks Fri 03-Jan-14 21:06:14

That is more or less word for word the same as my company policy (not MOD).

Eletheomel Fri 03-Jan-14 21:23:18

Yes, you get it, I'm getting it now - it all relates to a European Court ruling in 2008 so employers cannot decide not to honour it - it's the law, make sure you get it.

diddlediddledumpling Fri 03-Jan-14 21:53:35

It comes directly from the government, so there's no reason why an employer should prevent you from receiving it. They just claim it on your behalf, really.

TempusFuckit Fri 03-Jan-14 21:58:30

As everyone else has said, but also to add - my employers tried to deduct it from my SMP despite my checking they shouldn't - before I managed to query it, the taxman had rapped them over the knuckles on my behalf and I got a nice cheque in the post.

MrsBungle Fri 03-Jan-14 21:59:13

Hi op

I'm not very good at linking on my phone but google "maternity action child care vouchers". It should bring you to a PDF on the maternity action website that answers this question and others.

bringonyourwreckingball Fri 03-Jan-14 22:02:38

It is not a grey area. You are entitled to your vouchers and your smp and they cannot try and make you withdraw from the scheme or pay in some other way. I can give you the full legal spiel wife necessary but really that's all you need.

MrsRV Sat 04-Jan-14 11:07:09

sooo... I'm 22 weeks and haven't opted out of vouchers... am thinking in respect of option 3 below. too late now? will just continue as I am and only thing that will be affected is the 90% pay for 6 weeks & that will be calculated on my salary after deduction has been made for vouchers?

theborrower Sat 04-Jan-14 11:57:20

I am confused. I'm on £21.5k and have recently upped my CC vouchers to £180 (from £157) to try and build up some credit for when baby #2 arrives and we have 2 in nursery for a brief time. Do you think I would be better stopping vouchers to get higher mat pay (half of salary plys smp) or continuing with CC vouchers?

Eletheomel Sat 04-Jan-14 13:42:43

borrower - I think it might depend on how long you're taking off. I'm taking the year off. I get 6 months full pay (so will pay 220 vouchers out of that) I get 3 months smp and 3 months unpaid. So for me, while it meant I was paying more vouchers for 6 months than normal, I get 6 months of my vouchers paid for me by my work - so it was well worth it (and means my little boy can have 2 days a week at childminders for the whole year, giving me 2 days of baby only time - which is great :-).

theborrower Sat 04-Jan-14 14:06:46

Last time I was off 11 months, but that included using up annual leave, so I was only unpaid for a couple of weeks I think. I'll probably do the same. I get 90% full pay for 6 weeks, then half pay plus smp for ?? (12?) Weeks, then smp only, then unpaid after that runs out.

SoonToBeSix Sat 04-Jan-14 14:30:05

Bit confused why would you need childcare vouchers whilst on mat leave. Surely if you are home you don't need childcare?

learnasyougo Sat 04-Jan-14 14:37:15

to allow continuity of care (and place) for the older child. It can be disruptive too take them out of then back into nursery care while on mat leave. but to mention the time you get to spend just parenting one baby rather than a toddler and a baby.

also, I buy more vouchers than I need for my ds, as I will rely on the amount I've accrued once the voucher scheme ends. I am not entitled too tax credits for childcare despite a household income of only 22k.

SoonToBeSix Sat 04-Jan-14 14:39:59

Ok, that makes sense.

theborrower Sat 04-Jan-14 14:57:38

Yes, I also want to keep DD in nursery, though we may drop her from 3 to 2 days. She's in the preschool class and I don't want her to miss out. I can't move her to a (free) school pre-school for during mat leave because I'll be back at work for a few months before she starts school and they don't run during summer (and have completely impossible hours for working parents anyway), so wound need to put her back in private nursery.

mamapants Sat 04-Jan-14 14:59:08

diddle that isn't true, your employer would have to fund the childcare for the relevant period not the government.

Your employer does have to fund them during SMP as they can't deduct the money, but your maternity pay will be calculated on your lower pay, unless you opt out during the relevant weeks as explained above.
I have opted out during weeks 17-25 and will be cancelling before I go off on ML as I won't be using childcare while on leave. Its best to work it out on different scenarios to see what is best for each person.

sleeplessbunny Sat 04-Jan-14 15:22:10

This is all news to me and sounds very complicated. I am now 28wks with DC2 and still buying vouchers for DC1. I had just assumed the amount would continue to be deducted from any maternity pay as normal, assuming there was enough pay to cover the deductions. What am I reading here implies that when you're being paid SMP, the employer has to fund the whole cost of the vouchers, is that right? It seems rather odd to me, but I have never thought to check the rules.

I am lucky to have enhance mat pay from my employer for the 1st 18wks so I expect the vouchers will be deducted as normal during that period, but when I go onto SMP is this something I should be watching for? We are keeping DC1 in childcare so the vouchers will still be necessary.

MrsRV Sat 04-Jan-14 16:35:35

ok so, i've missed the opting out period (i am 22 weeks) so my stat mat pay will be calculated on my reduced earnings (after deduction of cc vouchers) - this will only actually affect my 6 weeks ats 90% though.

then, company have to continue to pay for CC vouchers whilst I'm on mat leave in addition to stat mat pay.
the childcare vouchers I recieve on mat leave can be saved up (for when I do go back to work) or used whilst I'm on mat leave for baby & me days & for DD1 to continue with her childminder.

if this is all correct I am one very happy mumma! however, now I have the dilemma of whether to save up cc vouchers or use them for mat leave. lovely dilemma!!!!grin

is that all correct??

shentok Sat 04-Jan-14 18:54:38

evening, thanks for this thread, it's a very tricky subject! I raised this with my employer and they said that they would pay them but when I return to work I'll have to pay it all back. Does that sound right?

poopooheadwillyfatface Sat 04-Jan-14 19:02:08

no, shentok.
They have to swallow the cost

shentok Sat 04-Jan-14 19:05:26

that's so cheeky of them! do you have any tips on what I can say to raise this again? I've seen wording which agrees with them paying it but nothing that says I should not have to pay it back. tia x

PenguinsDontEatKale Sat 04-Jan-14 19:06:28

Shentok - no, that is wrong.

MrsRV - you are right. The reasoning as to why they continue is linked to the salary sacrifice way they operate. It's not a question of 'buying' vouchers out of your salary normally. You agree to a reduced salary and, in return, you get a benefit (vouchers). Benefits - like company cars (if they can be used for personal as well as business travel), health insurance, life insurance, etc - have to continue during mat leave. So vouchers have to continue.

It is perfectly lawful to continue to deduct for vouchers from enhanced maternity pay. But you aren't allowed to deduct from SMP. So once you are on SMP they have to be given 'free'.

Shentok's employer is wrong because you can't retrospectively bill for benefits.

Have to say, not all employers allow you to do the 'have your cake and eat it' thing of opting in and out to ensure that your higher salary is used for SMP and you still get vouchers whilst off. As far as I know it is perfectly legal to say (as my employer did), that you can only change your voucher arrangement at two points in the calendar year (April and October). Plus you could opt out of them when you notified them of pregnancy, but couldn't then opt back in unless it happened to cover an April /October change date.

Eletheomel Sat 04-Jan-14 19:51:23

HMRC have guidance for employers regarding what to do with childcare vouchers when maternity leave is involved, you can view it at:

Refer them to a copy and stand your ground. One of my old colleagues raised it with her organisation who queried it (this was only 3 years ago - so they should have known). In the end her firm got legal advice that confirmed what she'd been telling them anyway (that they have to pay for her vouchers during her ordinary and additional maternity leave - she only got the basic maternity pay (6 weeks at 90% then smp) so it made a huge difference to her finances and kept the routine/place for her older son.

mycatlikestwiglets Sat 04-Jan-14 20:12:26

This is interesting - I also work in a law firm and I'm sure I was told I will have to stop receiving childcare vouchers once I drop down to smp. I remember thinking it didn't seem right so will definitely look into it now.

theborrower Sat 04-Jan-14 22:18:36

Eletheomel thanks for the HMRC link, will read it later (23 pages!).

So, in summary, your employer should still give CC vouchers while you are on smp - like free money?? except its not because its your salary sacrifice benefit? Have I understood that right?

Sounds like I am best to stay in the scheme, is that right?

diddlediddledumpling Sun 05-Jan-14 08:40:39

mamapants that's what I was told by our finance manager who initially informed a colleague that she wasn't entitled to the vouchers while on mat leave. The colleague pushed on it and when finance manager looked into it, it was true (she told me). Not sure if it makes a difference that it's a school.
Certainly she was initially very reluctant to pay it, and I don't think she would have if it was costing the school money.

diddlediddledumpling Sun 05-Jan-14 08:43:24

mamapants that's what I was told by our finance manager who initially informed a colleague that she wasn't entitled to the vouchers while on mat leave. The colleague pushed on it and when finance manager looked into it, it was true (she told me). Not sure if it makes a difference that it's a school.
Certainly she was initially very reluctant to pay it, and I don't think she would have if it was costing the school money.

PenguinsDontEatKale Sun 05-Jan-14 08:59:22

It may be that there is government funding for schools to cover vouchers, but fundamentally employers do pay for them. smile

PenguinsDontEatKale Sun 05-Jan-14 09:00:53

It doesn't cost normally be because of the salary sacrifice, but during SMP it does.

mamapants Sun 05-Jan-14 09:38:26


mamapants Sun 05-Jan-14 09:44:38

Hi diddle the finance manager must be confused.
In general providing childcare vouchers doesn't cost a company any money as the cost is covered by the persons wage and tax that would otherwise be paid- so in effect the governments contribution. And this actually can save the company money as they are not payoing NI on the amount sacrificed.
During SMP there is no salary to deduct and no tax to be saved so the company has to fund it. In my work local government we fund it out of the savings made. There is no additional funding for school staff.

mamapants Sun 05-Jan-14 09:48:30

I would also add that in my work we don't advertise the fact as if everyone did it it would cost us money and then my work would probably scrap it as we have zero budget. But am shocked at the employers lying about it and those trying to claim the money back off people!

diddlediddledumpling Sun 05-Jan-14 11:42:49

Pages 8-9 of this seems to say different, as of 2008. By the way, I'm talking about AML, when I still received the childcare vouchers. Honestly, I'd be very surprised if the finance manager was confused. She's absolutely meticulous and often a pain in the bum

diddlediddledumpling Sun 05-Jan-14 11:43:55

Sorry, I'm reading your post again mama and I realise that doc doesn't contradict what you're saying. Apologies.

chocolatesolveseverything Sun 05-Jan-14 17:36:47

Yes, your employer has to fund the vouchers during your maternity leave. This is a real shame imo, as it has meant when staff at the charity I work for (as HR Manager) asked about us starting the scheme, we had to say no as we can't afford the financial risk :-(

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