Lack of employee awareness hampers take-up of childcare voucher schemes

EXCLUSIVE

Three-quarters of organisations now offer childcare voucher schemes, but staff take-up remains low due to poor communication, according to an exclusive survey by Personnel Today in association with voucher provider Sodexo.

The research found that, in half of the 700 organisations who responded to the survey, take-up of childcare vouchers was less than 6%. Only 9% of organisations reported more than 30% staff take-up of the vouchers.

However, there is growing awareness of the existence of childcare voucher schemes, which enable employers to offer working parents vouchers to pay for registered childcare without having to pay tax or National Insurance contributions. Most organisations (81%) said staff awareness of childcare vouchers had increased over the last five years.

Iain McMath, chief executive of the rewards and incentives division of Sodexo, blamed poor communication of the benefits of the schemes for their relatively low take-up. “Lots of organisations introduce childcare vouchers to tick a box but you need an ongoing communications programme for people to really start taking it up,” he said.

McMath added that proactively offering childcare vouchers could be a deciding factor in attracting working parents and retaining key staff.

“Once the hygiene factors such as basic salary are covered, people look at fringe benefits such as this,” he said.

The survey results back up his comments, with 91% either agreeing or strongly agreeing that offering childcare vouchers improved an employer’s reputation, while 75% thought it boosted retention.

The research also looked into employer interest in offering a similar scheme for staff who needed to look after elderly dependants.

Only 1% of respondents offered ‘eldercare’ vouchers, but 59% were interested in introducing them.

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