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Childcare vouchers, when can they be taken for 1st child

(8 Posts)
SurreyArmyWife Sat 29-Sep-12 09:54:29

I am expecting my first baby and work for the NHS. I know that salary sacrifice for child care vouchers is available, but does anyone know when I can start buying them? Could it be from birth, or do I have to wait until I return to work? I would like to start as early as possible to take advantage of the savings. Thanks.

ceeveebee Sat 29-Sep-12 09:59:30

At my company they won't allow you to join until you are back at work. I think it's because they aren't allowed to deduct the cost from your SMP

Doretaball Sat 29-Sep-12 10:06:18

I started taking mine in the March before I went back to work in the July. But I was still on company mat pay so they could deduct the vouchers from my gross pay. If you are on SMP only, your employer can't make any deductions from that and so may not let you join the scheme until you have some other pay from which they can deduct (I.e kit days or holiday pay or when you return to work).

You can't start taking them until you have a baby. Best bet would be just to ask to join the scheme as soon after your baby is born as possible. Or line up HR to do this before you go off. They can then only say no.

Don't forget to get your husband to do the same. We had a nice little stash before I went back to work which really helped as we haven't had to pay for any Childcare out of 'normal' income yet!

Good luck!

cogitosum Sat 29-Sep-12 14:01:03

They are not allowed to prevent you from joining the scheme whilst you are on mat leave - they could lose all the tax exemption if they do. This is because for the tax exemption to apply they have to make it available to all staff including those on may leave. I can link on phone but if you go to HMRC and search e18 it's in there.

It could also fall foul of sex discrimination act as this says that whilst you are on maternity leave you have the same rights that would appy had you not been absent. This includes the right to start getting benefits if you could start whilst you were at work (so if you can only join at a set time each year then this wouldn't apply but if you can join any time throughout the year then it would).

Salary sacrifice is a reduction of contractual salary. Whilst you are on mat leave you still have a salary - you're just not receiving it. So it's nothing to do with deducting from pay (whatever some hr tell you)

RecursiveMoon Sat 29-Sep-12 14:09:46

I believe that cogito is correct. Ideally, you wouldn't get them during the week that they use to measure your salary to determine your maternity pay, then you would get them throughout your maternity leave.

SurreyArmyWife Sat 29-Sep-12 16:36:01

Thanks for the replies, I'll definitely apply as soon as the baby is born. It would really help to have built up some credit by the time I go back to work.

diddlediddledumpling Sat 29-Sep-12 16:39:08

I am currently on mat leave and have been receiving vouchers since January when ds3 was born. i think the law regarding them changed last year.

OctoberOctober Sat 29-Sep-12 20:17:02

We both applied as soon as DS was born and it has meant we haven't had to pay from 'normal' salary at all in over 1.5 years - definitely worth it!

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