Back to basics... Childcare vouchers

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Our back to basics series brings you top tips from industry experts on the bread and butter areas of HR

Why does it matter?

Arranging childcare can be a huge source of stress for working parents, so any extra help will go a long way towards creating a positive and supportive atmosphere in the business.

Now that the government’s tax-free childcare scheme has taken effect only parents who are currently using childcare vouchers can continue to redeem this benefit. This means it’s really important to ensure staff are fully aware of the support available.

Do…

Communicate the childcare options and changes. As new parents are no longer eligible for traditional childcare vouchers, it is important that staff fully understand the current status of childcare in the business. Employees still on the old scheme need to understand these changes or risk making a decision they cannot go back on.

Understand the demands of your employees. Each colleague will face different challenges when it comes to their childcare needs. Recognising these variations and ensuring that all possibilities are taken into account will make the company’s childcare support far more effective.

Help them find the best option. While the tax-free scheme has not received huge uptake, it doesn’t mean it’s the worse of the two options. For many parents tax-free childcare is the ideal choice, but staff may want to stay on vouchers based on their perceptions of the new scheme or an unwillingness to change. HR needs to make sure all employees know which option is best for their particular circumstances and support them in making the switch, if necessary.

Talk to people who aren’t eligible for childcare vouchers. As the new system has not been as popular as vouchers, HR needs to ensure that it is managing the sentiments of staff who may be unable to get the childcare benefits they’d prefer.

Don’t...

Offer it as a benefit. It’s easy for a business to forget to update its benefits programme. Whether it’s being used by recruiters or shared internally, having a list of benefits that still includes childcare vouchers is likely to lead to confusion and frustration with among staff.

Force people to change. Childcare vouchers are still available for parents currently on the original scheme, but it’s understandable if companies want to encourage their staff to switch to the tax-free initiative. But for many, childcare vouchers are still their preferred option, so those who have access to the programme should feel able to continue to use them while they’re being phased out.

Ignore the impact. Whether parents are using childcare vouchers or not, the way this benefit works has changed massively. Ensuring that all employees are properly managed during this change will ensure that they are aware of the impact it has on their benefits and how it may change their priorities as a parent.

Leave childcare vouchers out. Even though new parents can’t sign up for the vouchers many workers are still using this benefit. Maintaining the same level of support, advice and education on this should be a focus.

Emma Yearwood is director of HR at Sodexo Engage

This piece appeared in the July – August 2019 issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk

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