Working parents are unaware of the financial benefits that could be available to them through their employer, according to a survey commissioned by Co-Operative Employee Benefits.
The survey, which was carried out to highlight issues facing working mothers and fathers when making childcare arrangements, found 45% of the 2,000 parents polled were “completely unaware” of childcare vouchers and how they could save them money.
The survey also showed 33% of parents polled were not even offered childcare vouchers by their employer; if they were, then 22% said that they would definitely take up the scheme.
The start of the school year brings fresh anxieties to employees looking for affordable pre- and post-school care for their children. With just over half (55%) of parents polled having children aged between four and eleven, the survey exposed a clear need for childcare options before and after normal school hours.
Just under two-thirds (62%) of respondents have had to make financial sacrifices to pay for childcare, while only 40% actually used childcare vouchers to help with the mounting costs of childminders, breakfast clubs and after-school programmes.
With recent reports showing some women feel it is more financially viable to stay at home and not work than to pay for childcare, there has never been a better time to promote the benefits of the vouchers to employees. The initiative, which is supported by the Government, allows taxpayers to pay for childcare from their pre-tax income, potentially saving families hundreds of pounds a year.
Tracy Wilson, group operations manager for Co-operative Employee Benefits, said: “The headlines focusing on the expense of childcare in the UK have highlighted a problem. There is simply not enough awareness of childcare vouchers and the benefits that they hold for both employer and employee.
“Offering childcare vouchers to your employees shows that you care. The scheme has been proven to enhance recruitment and retention within both the public and private sector. Introducing a voucher scheme shows employees that you are committed to family friendly working. The vouchers can make a significant difference to an employee’s family budget, especially at a time when finances are under strain.”