Childcare vouchers

(14 Posts)
CuteLittleToes Mon 10-Feb-14 19:02:54

I was wondering if someone could answer a few questions...

I understand the basic idea, but I was wondering:

1. From what I've read, I cannot get vouchers via salary sacrifice while on maternity leave (I get SMP)? This is baby #1. So the earliest I can do it is when I go back to work, correct?

2. I've read that you can back date the vouchers up to 6 months (but not earlier than your child was born) - has anyone done this? If so my OH could do it... Baby is almost 3 months old.

3. Can you join the voucher scheme even if you are not using any childcare yet?

4. There is a limit of how much vouchers you can get a month, but is there a limit of how much you can spend? I.e. if there are periods when you temporarily don't need childcare if you are on maternity leave with baby #2, then you could potentially pay more in vouchers when you need the childcare again, correct?

Thank you smile

TwittyMcTwitterson Mon 10-Feb-14 19:57:21

Pretty sure you can only claim once needing Childcare ie back to work.

No idea about back dating. Not heard of it. How would that work? Your salary has already been paid.

Yes I think you can save them up if on mat leave etc. mind were through edenred. They were paid to them and they paid them to the nursery automatically on the same day every month. I believe you can just not pay them to the nursery and they add up and up ifyou leave them.

cogitosum Mon 10-Feb-14 19:58:05

You can get ccvs on maternity leave and if your employer refuses this they are foul of the sex discrimination act. Salary sacrifice means reducing your salary and receiving a benefit (in this case Childcare vouchers) to a corresponding value. When you are on maternity leave you can still reduce your contractual salary ( even though you are not receiving it at that point) and get the vouchers. So effectively your employer will be convering the cost of the vouchers.

Backdating is complex. It's down to your employer whether they will let you. They don't have to and it's difficult to do contractually.

Usually yes you can get the vouchers as soon as your child is born. Your employer may place restrictions (such as saying you need to be using Childcare) which is down to them as long as they apply to all employees.

Yes you can save up vouchers and use them as required. Some voucher providers may have expiry dates on their vouchers (which is bad practice if the vouchers are provided electronically they shouldn't expire).

Hth

TwittyMcTwitterson Mon 10-Feb-14 19:58:42

3. I'm still part of the voucher scheme even tho I no longer use them so assume you can join before you need to.

cogitosum Mon 10-Feb-14 20:00:37

I work in employment law by the way and salary sacrifice particularly in relation to Childcare vouchers is one of the most misunderstood areas particularly by hr.

TwittyMcTwitterson Mon 10-Feb-14 20:02:28

Hope you can make sense of my post. I barely can. PP knows what she's on about. Listen to her wink

addictedtosugar Mon 10-Feb-14 20:13:11

1) not sure. I would have suspected not, but cogitsum seems to be quite certain you can.
For Baby 2, you can certainly continue to claim them before, during and after ML. If it it set up on salary sacrifice, you get the vouchers in addition to SMP.

2) never heard this

3) Yes. Get DH signed up ASAP, if your sure your going back to work.

4) Don't think so. DH and I claimed while I was on ML with DS2, and we had 4 lovely months when I went back to work where childcare vouchers paid all the fees. We felt VERY rich! So, that was over £1000/month paid in vouchers each month.

cogitosum Mon 10-Feb-14 20:36:48

It's a grey area of the law. It basically says that someone on maternity leave is entitled to benefit from the same terms and conditions that would have applied if she were at work (apart from pay). The area of debate is whether this concerns the right to reduce their salary and receive a corresponding benefit (ie start getting ccvs like they could if they were at work) or whether it would just be if they already had an agreement in place to receive the vouchers (hence the acceptance that you can only get them if it's your second child and you were already getting them.

Most good employers will err on the side of caution and assume the former and HMRC have implied that this is their position on some of their literature (although it's not down to HMRC).

There's never been a test case so there is no definitive answer but if you push your employer they should really provide them.

CuteLittleToes Mon 10-Feb-14 21:06:54

Thanks for your replies! They've been really helpful.

cogitosum, so if the employer would provide the vouchers for me even though they cannot reduce my salary (which is currently SMP), does the company actually loose out, or can they claim this money from HMRC or someone else?

Our company went through some redundancies very recently so if they would end up losing out they are not likely to do it.

Thank you smile

TheDayOfMyDoctor Mon 10-Feb-14 21:21:16

I'm not convinced your employers will have to let you join a salary sacrifice scheme while you're in receipt of SMP. Completely agree that you can continue to get them if you have them before going on to mat pay, but to join any salary sacrifice scheme in my company you can't sacrifice an amount that takes you below the statutory minimum - this doesn't just apply to SMP, someone earning the national minimum wage or on ssp (male or female) would be equally affected so sex discrimination doesn't come into play.

cogitosum Mon 10-Feb-14 21:26:42

If they do let you it will cost them money. They can't claim this from anywhere. They are providing a benefit.

Thedayofmydoctor see my previous post. It has nothing to do with SMP. When you go on maternity leave you still have a contractual salary although you are not receiving if so you can still reduce that salary and receive a benefit. Contrary to popular belief salary sacrifice is not deducting money from pay it is a reduction of contractual salary.

TheDayOfMyDoctor Mon 10-Feb-14 21:39:48

I do understand how salary sacrifice works cogitsmum. My interpretation (without going back and reading the relevant bits of legislation) is that the law protects the employees rights to their normal terms and conditions during mat leave, but if you haven't already joined the salary sacrifice prior to mat leave then the vouchers don't form part of your normal terms and conditions.

However, if you've got links to anything that suggests someone can join when already on mat leave I'd be interested to see them (as would be useful for work!). I haven't looked into it for a while so will go back and have a look at the legislation again.

cogitosum Tue 11-Feb-14 08:40:37

As I said up thread there's no definitive answer as there's no test case but good employers seem to take the terms and conditions that would have applied had she not been absent to refer to the right to start the benefit.

HMRC seem to take that stance as in the e18 they say that someone should not be prevented from joining the scheme because they are on maternity leave.

I'm actually on maternity leave myself so can't dig it all out though!

TheDayOfMyDoctor Tue 11-Feb-14 16:57:17

No problem cogitsmum, I'll dig it all out for another look. I do wish someone would test case it to remove all the shades of grey!

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