Stay eligible for Childcare Vouchers – don’t miss out by leaving it too late to re-join the scheme

Some parents, due to changes in their circumstances – for example, as a result of different working patterns due to Covid-19, or because they are on a period of maternity leave – may have temporarily stopped making payments into their Childcare Voucher account but wish to retain the option of using Childcare Vouchers again in the future.

If this applies to you, remember to review your account and restart payments if necessary to ensure you can remain eligible for Childcare Vouchers and don’t miss out on future savings (eg you may need to pay for registered childcare in the future, perhaps as a result of changing working patterns and a return to the workplace).

Things to be aware of:

  • To retain the option of continuing to pay into your Childcare Voucher account you must make at least one payment from your salary, into your account each 52 weeks – even as little as £1. The money must come out of your salary before the 52 weeks have elapsed. It is not enough to have simply requested to make a payment through your employer.
  • Make sure you don’t leave it too late! The 52 weeks applies from the date of your last salary sacrifice. We have recently seen examples of parents who lost their eligibility for Childcare Vouchers because they left it too late to restart their salary sacrifice from their pay. For parents who are paid monthly, this can often mean you need to make a payment into your Childcare Voucher account in the month before the 52 weeks elapses. It is also important to note that some employers process their payroll over a month before their employees’ pay day so it is important to give your employer enough notice that you want to start sacrificing into your Childcare Voucher account again. Contact our team and your payroll department as early as possible to discuss your timeline.
  • Our Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay for all forms of registered childcare including many after school and breakfast clubs (so can be useful for older children).
  • If you leave Childcare Vouchers to join Tax-Free Childcare, you will not be able to return to the scheme, even if it is the better form of support for you in the future.
  • If you change employer, you will no longer be able to pay into Childcare Vouchers however you can use up any balance remaining in your account.

Some examples to help illustrate the need to think about this in good time

Robin’s last salary sacrifice was made from his pay on 26 February 2021. He is paid on the last Friday on every month. Robin must make another salary sacrifice from his pay by 25 February 2022 in order to remain eligible. This is the date he is due to be paid in February 2022. The payroll deadline for changes to his February pay is 4 February 2022, therefore a request to salary sacrifice must be submitted by that date.

Elaine’s last salary sacrifice was made from her pay on 21 April 2021. She must make another salary sacrifice from her pay by 20 April 2022 in order to remain eligible, however Elaine’s salary in April is not due to be paid until 22 April 2022. This goes beyond the 52 week limit and therefore Elaine must make a salary sacrifice from her March pay in order to remain eligible. The payroll deadline for changes to her March pay is 10 March 2022, therefore a request to salary sacrifice must be submitted by that date.

Pauline temporarily stopped making salary sacrifice payments into her Childcare Voucher account in January 2021 before going on maternity leave with her second child in February 2021. Pauline is not due to return to work until the end of February 2022 but would like to continue to use Childcare Vouchers to pay for her registered childcare. Pauline was unable to salary sacrifice into her account from her statutory maternity pay, and will miss the 52 week deadline if she waits until her return to work. To remain eligible for Childcare Vouchers, Pauline agreed with her employer to take several ‘keep in touch’ or KIT days in December 2021, and was able to salary sacrifice a small amount from her full salary for those days into her Childcare Voucher account. This keeps her eligible for the scheme and she can restart making regular payments from her salary into her Childcare Vouchers when she returns to work in February 2022.

If you have any questions regarding your Childcare Voucher account, please call our Customer Service team on 028 9267 8200.