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Sigh. HR dept and maternity leave.

(17 Posts)
Bearsinmotion Fri 22-Aug-14 08:42:41

Am pg with DC2, changed jobs about a year ago so first mat leave was with a different company. I use childcare vouchers, and the company has a generous maternity policy - 6 months full pay.

I want to know whether I should continue with the vouchers while on mat leave. Contacted the voucher company, they say it depends on my individual employer. Contacted our in-house HR, she "has no idea" and told me to contact voucher company. Failing that, our outsourced HR.

Contacted outsourced HR. After a long delay they said I can continue to claim during the first 6 months as normal, but when I'm on SMP it will be reduced by the value of the vouchers.

I don't think they can do this. Guidance from HMRC is that they can't do this. I don't see how I can have misunderstood. Am now worried about getting any advice from them as they don't seem to know what they are doing sad

So frustrating, it could cost me £100s if I get it wrong sad

bettybyebye Fri 22-Aug-14 08:45:39

As far as I'm aware when you drop down to SMP you still get the full vouchers but they are covered by your employer (so your SMP is not reduced). Can you escalate to anyone more senior in HR?

Bearsinmotion Fri 22-Aug-14 09:10:53

Thanks Betty, that's what I thought too. Have pointed them to the HMRC guidance, if I don't get a response I'll escalate.

flowery Fri 22-Aug-14 09:11:51

Well, neither in house HR, outsourced HR or the voucher company can or should advise you on what you should do. it's up to you to inform yourself about what will happen and do the calculations. Obviously they should give you correct factual information, but you should never rely on your employer's HR or a voucher company for advice on what you should do.

Vouchers aren't something you claim, they are a contractual benefit, and as such must continue to be provided throughout maternity leave. The cost of the vouchers can be deducted from any pay you receive over and above SMP, so for the first six months you will pay for them. Once you go down to SMP only, and obviously also after SMP stops, your employer will have to continue to provide them but won't be able to make deductions from SMP. Whoever does your payroll (ie not HR) should know that deductions can't be made from SMP. Your HR should know that contractual benefits need to continue during maternity leave.

Whether staying in the scheme or coming out, and if you come out, when, is something only you can decide and depends on many factors. You need to think about the following:

How is "full pay" defined in your maternity policy? Is it the pay you are on at the point you go on maternity leave or something else?

If you come out of the scheme, how easy is it for you to go back in again. Some schemes only allow changes at set times or a set number of times a year or similar, whereas others allow you to pop in and out as you like

Would you prefer higher pay during the first six months rather than vouchers, and would that preference override the "free" vouchers you'll get when dropping down to SMP only

How long do you intend to be off - if it's only 6 months then it will have no impact at all obviously

Phantomteadrinker Fri 22-Aug-14 09:14:55

Yes agree with Betty. Pretty sure if they are in your contract, your employer needs to cover them while you are off. I got bugger all maternity package last time but did manage to accrue over £1,000 in vouchers while i was off, still using them for DS2 who is 2, it's been a massive help. Good luck op

Bearsinmotion Fri 22-Aug-14 14:57:12

How is "full pay" defined in your maternity policy? Is it the pay you are on at the point you go on maternity leave or something else?

Thanks flowery, this is what I'm trying to establish as the maternity policy is unclear. I'm not asking them what I should do, but at the moment I don't have the info to work it out...

NovemberAli Fri 22-Aug-14 15:13:03

Full pay is normally calculated from what you are paid during a qualifying period, typically something like 8 weeks prior to the 25th week of pregnancy.

Therefore if you are still receiving vouchers at this point, your full pay amount will be less the value of the vouchers.

So if you are going to cancel them it needs to be before this qualifying period.

If you wish to continue receiving them the value of the vouchers should not be deducted from SMP and you should continue to receive them even in months 9 - 12 when no other pay is received.

Hope this makes sense! I think this is standard practice everywhere but am prepared to stand corrected. smile

Bearsinmotion Fri 22-Aug-14 15:29:32

Hi November, so does that mean that if I'm still in the scheme they take the voucher value twice and only issue one set of vouchers?

flowery Fri 22-Aug-14 15:46:19

The 8 week qualifying period is used for SMP, but don't assume it will be used as the basis of the "full pay" occupational maternity pay you'll be getting. If the policy is completely silent on what counts as full pay, it may well be reasonable to assume it is whatever your contractual salary is at the point you go on leave, which if you have come out of the voucher scheme, will be higher than when you are in the scheme.

At no point will voucher value be deducted twice.

trilbydoll Sat 23-Aug-14 11:29:42

Our payroll is outsourced to a payroll bureau who, once they had the date mat leave was going to start, were able to generate a report showing how much I would be paid for the 12 months. Could you request anything similar, it should give you the figures you need to make a decision.

Bearsinmotion Sat 23-Aug-14 18:45:09

Thanks trilby, I'm not much more optimistic about payroll than HR but I'll give it a go!

mandy214 Sat 23-Aug-14 21:34:11

Just to add - you really need to do your sums properly. It obviously depends on your company's policy but mine (and that of my close friends) based their "full pay" (i.e. used to calculate mat pay both statutory and occupational) on my lower pay (i.e. full salary less the voucher amount) so it made sense for me to come out of the voucher scheme prior to mat leave so that my maternity pay was higher.

Bearsinmotion Sun 24-Aug-14 06:46:15

So mandy if you had stayed in the scheme your monthly pay would be your salary minus the voucher amount, and this would be reduced again to claim the vouchers? Is that right?

ChineseFireball Sun 24-Aug-14 07:20:16

Childcare vouchers are administered via a salary sacrifice scheme where I work and are treated as a non-cash benefit. My "full pay" is gross £ - £childcare vouchers - £tax and N.I. I will continue to get that same amount per month for the amount of time I get "full pay" as departmental maternity pay. I'm lucky and my employer pays this for 6 months.

After that I will get SMP. As the childcare vouchers are a non-cash benefit (which, as such, continue) and my employer is not allowed to reduce SMP I will continue to receive the same amount of vouchers in addition to SMP.

I agree it's a minefield. Be careful about reducing your vouchers to increase your "full pay" because your scheme may not allow you to increase them again in year. That bit is something to check with the voucher provider.

Bearsinmotion Sun 24-Aug-14 08:25:35

Thanks Chinesefireball, that's what I'm hoping ours is. If the "full pay" is what I receive at the moment along with the vouchers that's the best scenario from my point of view. Then I can save the vouchers for when I return to work and need to pay two lots of childcare.

flowery Sun 24-Aug-14 11:43:45

You don't need to "hope", it's a legal requirement. If you are in the voucher scheme when you go on leave, the vouchers must continue to be provided throughout maternity leave, as they are a contractual non-cash benefit. It's not something an individual employer gets to decide.

With a salary sacrifice, you reduce your contractual salary, so full salary if you are in the scheme is the reduced amount, how full pay is defined for the purposes of maternity pay is more about whether they use the salary you are on during the qualifying period, the salary you are on at the point your leave actually starts, or something else.

mandy214 Sun 24-Aug-14 13:54:01

For me, I had a salary sacrifice scheme as flowery mentioned so for arguments sake, my weekly pay would have been £400 per week without the sacrifice but say £320 per week afted the sacrifice and it was the £320 that my employer classed as my salary. So when I did the sums, in my particular circumstances, it was better financially for me to leave the scheme (and pay full rate for nursery during late pregnancy and mat leave) and for my salary sacrifice to end and my full pay to be classed as £400 if you see what I mean. I then rejoined the scheme about 14 months later when I went back to work.

But like I said, it depends on the specifics of your scheme, the mat benefits you get, if your husband could do vouchers, when you joined / when you can rejoin if you leave etc. No-one can really advise on that, you need to work out what is best for you.

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