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Help! No more childcare vouchers on maternity leave?

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by Coolgiraffe, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. Coolgiraffe

    Coolgiraffe Occasional commenter

    This might affect me and others?

    I'm coming to the point in my maternity leave where I will earn only smp for a while, then the last 13 weeks on zero pay. But I stayed in the childcare voucher scheme to take advantage of the fact that I am still entitled to the vouchers as a benefit, even when I have no salary to sacrifice.

    I have stumbled across a case that happened last week where a tribunal was held (Google Donaldson case maternity childcare vouchers). It seems that now employers do not have to keep providing the vouchers by law as it isn't now discriminatory.... Eek!

    Please could someone confirm this for me and let me know whether I should come out of the scheme now that I'm not going to get them whilst I'm on no pay?

    Thank you x
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    The appeal was heard by the EAT in January, but judgment reserved until last week.

    The clearest explanation of the decision that I have found is here:


    In short, the EAT's decision is that child care vouchers may lawfully be suspended during maternity leave as they form part of the employee's normal remineration, which may also be suspended.

    Worth discussing with your union and looking to see if you have any particular contractual rights to child care vouchers which may not be affected by this decision. Some employers, for example, may choose to still give them anyway. You also need guidance from them on how your employer intends to react to this decision.
  3. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Of course, the school may not even notice this case, or may take a while to change their policies. My suggestion would be to keep quiet about it as far as the school is concerned. I can't answer your final question - is there an advantage for coming out of the scheme while you are on zero pay?
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    My bet is that a large employer would be on the ball with this, even if the school is not. I would be worried that the employer might ask for repayment of any overpayment - hence why I think it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a discussion with the union. Unfairness could certainly be argued, if that were the case (though with no guarantee of success) - but it's probably hassle the OP would prefer to avoid.
  5. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Sorry - I wasn't clear. I meant not to speak to the school - talking to the union makes sense, as does having a careful look at contracts.

    If the school can claim back overpayments, might this apply to vouchers offered to other people under similar circumstances before the decision was made?
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I suppose we may come across an employer who tries it, mightn't we? The union's lawyers can be meaningfully occupied, if that is the case!
  7. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    Could you ask your husband/wife to do it instead of you? It was always my husband who did the salary sacrifice thing for us, meaning that if I'd taken much mat leave I'd have been safe from this situation. Anyone know? Of course I don't know your situation (if she is single, could she ask an ex partner?)
  8. Coolgiraffe

    Coolgiraffe Occasional commenter

    Ooh this is well and truly a huge can of worms then!

    Thank you to you all for your advice so far, I haven't yet acted upon anything though.

    My husbands company aren't in a childcare voucher scheme so it would be hard to get them to set it up just for one person. To be completely honest I have only stayed in the scheme because I was due to benefit from a few months of vouchers technically for free as I'm taking a full years maternity leave and that means a few months without any pay. But I would have still been entitled to the vouchers and this would have been a huge help with childcare costs upon my return to work. I know it's a cheeky thing to expect but I've never been lucky enough to get anything for 'free' in the past (like being one of those people who needed to have worked for 26 weeks to go up the pay scale many moons ago but actually only worked for 24, and many other examples I could name...)

    I thought it would be worth carrying on sacrificing salary during the paid bit of maternity to take advantage of the 'free' months of vouchers but now it is starting to look like it won't have been worth it.

    It is true that I don't want the hassle, and I don't want to stir up any trouble for myself either. Therefore it leaves me in no mans land I suppose. I suspect even the unions won't know what to do about this one yet, like you say, until something kicks off in a big way. I'll just have to be careful with money in that I will be able to pay money back if they ask, however, I wouldn't pay anything back without consulting my union of course.

    Off to grumble about how unlucky I am...
  9. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    First stop definitely union. They should know about it, as they have a legal department. You may need to insist that you are moved up the line until you get to the right person.

    We know about it, at Citizens Advice and are expected to be prepared to deal with it. I would expect the union to be at least as good as we are! ;)
  10. Ankermoor

    Ankermoor New commenter

  11. funkyyay

    funkyyay New commenter

    Can I ask you what happened in this case please?
    I'm 12 weeks and receive childcare vouchers. I am looking into information about childcare vouchers whilst on maternity leave,

    Did you get the childcare vouchers at the end of your maternity leave? We're there any issues?

    Many thanks for your help :)
  12. LauraHester

    LauraHester New commenter

    I returned from maternity leave last month and throughout continued to recieve childcare vouchers. They were paid into my childcare account as usual on pay day. I've always taken the full salary sacrafice amount and was expecting them to stop when on just SMP but payroll said that they had to continue paying them regardless of the fact I was recieving no salary. Good luck though as from what I can gather, it is completely dependent now on the goodwill of the school.
  13. Ankermoor

    Ankermoor New commenter

    This is really interesting as I'm 17 weeks and receive full childcare vouchers for my son.
    I'm debating whether to continue the vouchers and keep quiet and hope that they pay throughout my MAT leave when on MAT pay, or whether to stop then and go into the new government scheme where can put in £8000 and government will pay £2000 That way I'd receive more money initially at start of MAT pay.

    No idea what to do for the best. Husband can't get childcare vouchers.

    Please do let me know what happens.

    Good luck
  14. Twinkletoes79

    Twinkletoes79 New commenter

    Hi Laura...this is quite an old post but is currently affecting me as am on mat leave and being denied childcare vouchers . When you say 'dependent on the goodwill of the school' how exactly do you mean? In 2016 guidance was changed to allow the employer to decide if they pay it or not. Surely the school are not the employer?

  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    They could be. Or, if it is the LA, they may have a policy or allow the school to decide.
  16. Twinkletoes79

    Twinkletoes79 New commenter

    The LA pay childcare vouchers for all school staff on mat leave. I have many friends in the same LA as me , all if whom are receiving this. But my school are saying I'm not entitled to it. Doesn't seem right!

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