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How employers can support families

There are a number of ways employers can support the childcare needs of their staff. The benefits of doing so may include recruitment and retention of staff, reduced absence and a more motivated workforce.

Some of the ways employers may achieve these benefits are:

Childcare information

Employers can direct their employees to the Surrey Family Information Service, who will able to provide them with listings of local registered childcare. They could also consider incorporating a link to Childcare finder on their company intranet so parents can search for local childcare.

Flexible working options

Anyone can ask their employer for flexible work arrangements, but the law provides some employees with the statutory right to request a flexible working pattern. Employers have a legal duty to consider the request and can only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so.

Working Families is an organisation that helps children, working parents and carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. You can find further information and factsheets on their website.

Financial support

Childcare voucher schemes allow employers to support their staff with the cost of Ofsted registered childcare. Financial support given through these schemes can be exempt from National Insurance Contributions (NICs) and tax for employees, and free from NICs for employers.

Employers are able to register to offer childcare vouchers by visiting the voucher provider's website or by calling them. Details of providers can be found on the Childcare Voucher Providers Association website along with other useful information.

Alternatively, working parents may chose to use the government's new Tax-Free Childcare scheme which will be rolled out during 2017.

Employers can also provide their employees with information about Working Tax Credit and Universal Credit (which both have a childcare element to help working parents cover childcare costs).

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Maternity, paternity and adoption rights

The government website has helpful information about maternity, paternity and adoption rights in the workplace.

Workplace nurseries

Workplace nurseries (and/or playschemes run during school holidays) offer childcare for employees. If it is not suitable to set up such provision employers can also develop a contract with an existing local nursery. In this instance the employer needs to be wholly or partly responsible for financing and managing the provision.

Payments towards the workplace nursery on behalf of employees (possibly as part of a salary sacrifice) are exempt from tax and national insurance payments, making a saving for the employee and the employer. Employers can receive support to set up a nursery through Surrey's Early Years and Childcare Commissioning Team.

More general information for employers on the expenses and benefits of providing workplace childcare can be found on the website.