About the scheme and how to save money
1. Why is my organisation offering Childcare Vouchers?
Your employer recognises that working parents need flexible pre-school and out-of-school childcare that's suitable and convenient for their circumstances. Childcare Vouchers enable you to choose your own childcare provider and reduce your childcare costs. And they can help you achieve a better balance between your work and home life.
2. How does the scheme work?
Most employers choose to operate their childcare voucher scheme via 'salary sacrifice'. As long as your cash salary does not go below the National Minimum Wage, you can choose to take Childcare Vouchers up to the value of £2,916 a year as part of your package. If you accept Childcare Vouchers as a portion of your salary (up to £55 per week or £243 a month) you do not have to pay National Insurance Contributions (NIC) or Tax on that amount.
3. How do I save money?
If you choose to have some of your salary paid as either paper or electronic Childcare Vouchers (up to £55 per week or £243 a month), you don't pay tax or NICs on that amount. So your remaining wages are greater after paying for your childcare with vouchers than if you had paid in cash.
4. How much can I save?
Each parent that takes their maximum allowance can save up to £1,196 per year. Exactly how much you save depends on how much tax and National Insurance you pay.
Find out how much you can save using our Savings Calculator.
5. Can all staff benefit from the scheme?
Although you must be made aware of the scheme and be able to apply, you may not be eligible to participate if you:
- Do not have children in qualifying childcare (you may choose to use informal care such as a friend or member of the family)
- Do not earn sufficient salary (a salary sacrifice cannot reduce your cash pay below the National Minimum Wage)
- Already benefit from working tax credit
6. Is my partner able to receive vouchers as well?
If your partner also works for an organisation that runs a Childcare Voucher scheme, your family could make double savings if you both join your employer's childcare vouchers scheme. This is because tax and National Insurance contribution exemption applies to each employee, not the number of dependent children you have.
7. Do Childcare Vouchers cover children of any age?
You can use Childcare Vouchers for children up to the age of 15 (until 1st September following their 15th birthday), or 16 if they are disabled (until 1st September following their 16th birthday).
8. Who can I pay with Childcare Vouchers?
You can use Childcare Vouchers as full or part payment for a:
- Day Nursery
- Nursery School
- Playgroup / Crèche
- Holiday scheme
- Qualified nanny / Au pair
- Out of school club
- Holiday Play Scheme
To benefit from the Tax and National Insurance exemption your childcare provider must hold either a current registration certificate (with a unique reference number (URN) or an approval certificate with an expiry date and reference number.
Recognised approval organisations include:
- Ofsted Childcare Register - Compulsory (England)
- Ofsted Childcare Register - Voluntary (England)
- Local Health and Social Services Trusts (Northern Ireland)
- The Care Commission (Scotland)
- Childcare Appoval Scheme (Wales)
- The Care Standards Inspectorate (Wales)
Edenred provide a childcare advice line to all parents receiving Childcare Vouchers which can help find childcare in your area. Please see your parent welcome pack for more information.
9. Can I use my vouchers to pay for more than one of my children?
Yes, vouchers are not specific to any one child.
10. Can I use the vouchers to pay for other people's children?
No, you must have 'parental responsibility' for the child.
Parental responsibility means that you have the same legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority as a parent for a child and the child's property.
11. What are the differences between electronic and paper vouchers?
Electronic vouchers are credited to your personal online Childcare Voucher account. When you join the scheme you will be sent details of how to access this account. You can pay your selected childcare provider through your account (either as an individual payment or set up a standing order) or via the telephone.
Paper vouchers are either posted to your home address or to your employers HR/Payroll department. Simply hand them to your childcare provider as payment.
12. What type of vouchers will I receive?
The type of vouchers you receive will depend on the nature of the scheme your employer operates. Please contact your employer if you are not sure of the voucher type you will be receiving.
13. If I opt for electronic vouchers, do I need Internet access to get them?
No, there is an automated telephone service via which you may access your vouchers.
14. When will I receive my first vouchers?
Please contact your employer to confirm the date on which you will receive your first vouchers. You will receive a parent pack and, in the case of electronic vouchers, membership card in advance of this.
15. What effect will the vouchers have on Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit?
To get a clear idea of how vouchers may affect your tax credits, you should contact your local Working Tax credit office. To calculate how much Childcare Vouchers may affect Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit entitlements, Edenred customers can use our tax credit Estimator. To access this, you will need to obtain a "Scheme ID" from your employer.
16. What happens if my pay goes up?
Childcare Vouchers do not affect how much your employer pays you.
17. Does having a deduction from my salary for Childcare vouchers affect my tax or my pension?
Being eligible for some state benefits (eg Statutory Sick Pay and Job Seekers Allowance) relies on you paying a minimum level of National Insurance Contributions. The scheme therefore does not permit your income to fall below the NI earnings threshold.
For company contribution pension schemes the policy may vary from organisation to organisation.
Questions about carers
18. What if my chosen carer has not accepted Childcare Vouchers before?
If your chosen carer does not already have an Edenred Account Number, they simply need to join Edenred to accept our Childcare Vouchers. They can join quickly and easily online.
Please note, if your Childcare Vouchers have tax and NI exemption applied (i.e. you are making a saving) you must use childcare that is registered or approved. In order to confirm the status of your chosen provider we will ask them to provide a copy of their registration or approval certificate.
19. What is the carer account number and how do I get hold of it?
Your carer's Edenred Account Number is issued to them when they join Edenred, and will begin with a "P". You should contact your carer directly to obtain this.
20. What should I do if my carer is not sure of their Edenred Account Number, preventing me from making payments to them?
If your carer is already affiliated with Edenred, but is not sure of their Account Number, they may contact us to obtain this.
21. Can I use vouchers for more than one childcare provider?
Yes. Childcare Vouchers can be used to pay any carer that is affiliated to the Edenred network. Please note, if your Childcare Vouchers have tax and NI exemption applied (i.e. you are making a saving) you must use childcare that is registered or approved.
22. Can I change my childcare arrangements while in the scheme?
Yes. You may chose to pay another carer already affiliated with Edenred (i.e. they already have an Edenred Account Number) at any time. New or additional carers that are not already affiliated with Edenred simply need to join the scheme. However, the value of Childcare Vouchers you receive cannot be changed unless it is for a 'life change' event.
23. When will my carer get paid?
If you receive electronic vouchers, we will issue payment to your carer on the next working day after you request payment online or via the phone. If they are paid by bank transfer, you should make your online payment requests at least 4 working days before payment is due.
24. How will my carer get paid?
Your carer will either be paid by cheque or bank transfer, depending on what they selected when they joined the scheme.
25. Do I need my carer's bank account details?
No, you simply need their Edenred Account Number.
26. What happens if my childcare costs vary from month to month? Or if I only pay for childcare during the school holidays?
Take the total amount you pay for childcare in a year, divide by 12 and use this as your monthly amount which you receive in vouchers. You do not have to use Childcare Vouchers in the same month as you receive them.
27. Who can I talk to about querying the voucher value credited to my Edenred electronic account?
Your employer sets the value of Childcare Vouchers you receive each month, so you should speak to the relevant person within your own organisation.
28. Can I accumulate vouchers if I am not paying for childcare at the moment?
Electronic vouchers may be accumulated indefinitely and may be used to pay for childcare at any point in the future. Paper vouchers are valid for one year, this is for auditing purposes only, and are reissued on request, without cost.
29. Can I get a refund for unused vouchers?
No, Childcare Vouchers are a non-cash benefit, and may only be used to pay for childcare.
30. What happens if I go on maternity leave?
This is something you should speak to your employer about.
31. What happens if I go on long term sick leave, or take unpaid leave?
On sick leave your salary will continue to be adjusted by the value of your Childcare Vouchers.
If you are off on long-term sickness this could be regarded as a 'life change event'. You can decide to leave the scheme and stop receiving Childcare Vouchers. Once your eligibility to full sick pay ends, you will only be able to continue in the scheme by agreeing to an adjustment of your salary to ensure that your cash pay and childcare vouchers are correctly calculated.
If your sick pay runs out or you take any other period of unpaid leave, then you cannot remain in the scheme – simply because you're not being paid a salary.
32. What should I do if I change my address?
You should inform your employer, who will advise us of the amendment when ordering future vouchers for you.
33. Can I leave the scheme at any time?
You cannot leave the scheme until the end of your salary sacrifice agreement with your employer. However, some lifestyle changes may affect your salary sacrifice agreement.
Find out more
What is salary sacrifice?