Who can claim vouchers?

Updated on 17 March 2018

This section of the site explains who can claim childcare vouchers. 

Do all employers offer childcare vouchers?

No. Employers do not have to offer their workers childcare vouchers, it is entirely their choice. However they may save employer National Insurance contributions by doing so.

If they do choose to offer childcare vouchers then the vouchers must be available to all staff (except those who are unable to join because it would reduce their earnings below the national minimum wage or national living wage for those aged 25 and over).

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Can all employees claim vouchers if offered by their employer?

Yes, however if vouchers are offered through a salary sacrifice (meaning you give up some of your salary to get the vouchers), the arrangement cannot reduce you’re your cash pay below the relevant national minimum wage or national living wage rates. 

If you receive statutory pay such as maternity pay or sick pay, this cannot be reduced by a salary sacrifice for vouchers.

Childcare vouchers are an employer provided non-cash benefit. Such benefits provided under a contract of employment must continue to be provided whilst an employee is absent from work on maternity leave. This applies even if the employee is getting no pay or only getting SMP (which cannot be reduced).

You cannot receive directly-contracted childcare and childcare vouchers in the same week.

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What are the other consequences of taking vouchers?

Taking childcare vouchers as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement involves altering your work contract. This may affect future calculations of pensions, redundancy pay, statutory maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay. You should get advice on these employment law aspects before deciding to take vouchers so you fully understand how they may affect you in the future.

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Who can claim the vouchers?

Originally it was announced that the tax and NI relief associated with directly contracted childcare and childcare vouchers would not be available to any new applicants after 5 April 2018. The Government has now confirmed that this will be extended by 6 months.

Subject to these changes, you can claim vouchers if you pay for qualifying childcare and the child is:

  • your child and you maintain them at your expense (wholly or partly); or
  • your stepchild and you maintain them at your expense (wholly or partly); or
  • a child who lives with you and you have parental responsibility for them

This means that both parents can claim vouchers and benefit from the tax and National Insurance savings.

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Who counts as a child for voucher purposes?

You can claim vouchers for a child until the last day of the week in which falls the 1 September following the child’s 15th birthday. This is extended to the 1 September following their 16th birthday if the child is disabled.

A child is disabled for childcare voucher purposes if:

  • Disability living allowance or personal independence payment is payable in respect of them (or has ceased only because he/she is a patient) or
  • The child is certified as severely sight impaired or blind by a consultant ophthalmologist (or has ceased to be certified within the previous 28 weeks)

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