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Child care vouchers, maternity leave & new mat leave policy

(4 Posts)
TinyPenguin Wed 12-Feb-14 20:36:22

I've been advised to post here with this query....

I am a member of the childcare voucher scheme at my place of work. However haven't been buying any vouchers for a while. I am due to start maternity leave mid march & want to start now to buy £243 vouchers a month. I know this means that when I'm on SMP my employer, legally, should foot the expense as it cannot be deducted from SMP.
However.....
A recently revised edition of the maternity leave policy (amended Jan 2014) has popped up on the intranet, stating that during mat leave childcare vouchers will not be paid during SMP.....
Surely this is discrimination?
Have I got a case to argue?
Any advice much appreciated as I don't want to get to my SMP months & be 'surprised' to find my vouchers are no longer being paid.
Thank you.

Twinsplusonesurprise Wed 12-Feb-14 22:32:41

Watching with interest as I'm on mat leave and receiving my vouchers but obv don't want to have to pay them back!!
Minefield isn't it?

prh47bridge Thu 13-Feb-14 00:14:37

Assuming this is a salary sacrifice scheme they cannot do that. All non-cash benefits must continue throughout maternity leave. If they do not it is automatically sex discrimination. Refer your employers to this HMRC guidance.

If however it is not a salary sacrifice scheme but you are simply being allowed to pay for vouchers from your salary that is a different matter.

baffledmum Thu 13-Feb-14 12:32:51

As phr47bridge says, if it is done through salary exchange then your employer will meet the cost.

BUT, you say that you haven't been in the scheme for a while? If that is true then your employer isn't obliged to open a window on your flex platform at this time to enable you to request to rejoin the scheme unless you have a lifestyle event (see your flex scheme rules for what those are) or it's the annual window when everyone reviews their flex benefits. Assuming that they apply this rule fairly to everyone then they will be able to prevent you from joining at this time. Some employers have also started to explain that they will only honour non-cash benefits in place when someone starts mat leave so check that out with them too.

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