New ‘Guide to Childcare’ launched for employers

The Department for the Economy has worked with the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and a range of other stakeholders, including Employers For Childcare, to develop and launch a new guide to help employers better understand what financial support is available to assist their staff with their registered childcare costs.

The practical, easy to read guide provides up to date information on financial support options, top tips for using key opportunities to support employees, and best practice case studies. It also signposts to further advice and support organisations.

An important message is that most working parents are entitled to financial support with their registered childcare costs, and employers can play a key role in ensuring they are not missing out. Too many working parents simply don’t realise that they are entitled to financial support. And yet, depending on their circumstances, working parents could be entitled to financial support of between 20% and 85% of their registered childcare costs, potentially saving £1000s each year.

Why is this guide so important?

Being able to access and afford the childcare they need is key to enabling parents to work and, in turn, to ensuring employers can recruit and retain the vital staff they need. In our most recent Northern Ireland Childcare Survey, 98% of parents reported they believe quality childcare provision is good for their children, good for them, and good for the economy.

Through our research with parents we know, however, that the cost of childcare can be a real challenge. In some cases, the struggle to afford the childcare they need may be so great that parents decide work is not a viable option for a period of time.

With over 40% of the workforce in Northern Ireland being parents with dependent children, this is a problem not only for families, and for individual employers, but for our economy as a whole.

While long term investment in our critical childcare infrastructure is needed through an ambitious new Childcare Strategy, this guide presents some practical ways in which employers can support staff, here and now, to access the financial support they are entitled to, and which can make the childcare they need to work more affordable.

With family budgets stretched more than ever due to the worsening cost of living crisis, there is a growing urgency to ensuring parents and childcare providers can immediately access financial support. We would encourage all employers to review this guide, and take steps to ensure that all of their staff are aware of the financial support they could be entitled to.

Where is the guide available?

The guide is available as part of the LRA’s Employment Document Toolkit. You will need to register to access the employment guides, but it is free to do so. You can do this by visiting:

Once you are registered, you can use the ‘search’ function to find the childcare guide or browse through all of the available guidance.

Schedule an information session for your employees

We appreciate that employers cannot be experts in the range of financial support options available. But one of the practical ways you can support your staff, and ensure they are talking to the experts, is to offer an information and advice session with a member of Employers For Childcare’s Family Benefits Advice Service.

Sessions can be delivered to all staff, or to small groups, and can be arranged flexibly – such as over a lunchtime or during a regular staff meeting. A skilled advisor can deliver a short presentation on the financial support available, which can be followed up with questions. Individual employees can then contact our team directly for free, personalised, confidential advice.

Sessions are offered free of charge to employers, as they are financed through our social enterprise business activities.

To speak to one of our advisors and get a session in the diary, simply call 0800 028 3008 or email