While some employers will be looking to set up a scheme for the first time, others may be looking to change supplier.
Richard Davies, head of employee benefits at P&MM, explains: “The credit crunch has undoubtedly deepened the consumers’ thirst for opportunities to reduce costs.
“Our results demonstrate that by simply changing suppliers organisations can re-energise the benefit, enabling more people to take advantage of it and reap the rewards.”
He continues: “The problem has often been reported that simply not enough parents are aware that their employer offers assistance in paying for childcare through a salary sacrifice scheme. Indeed, when taking over childcare voucher schemes at major organisations – including Oxford County Council, Nottingham City Council and Essex County Council – we discovered that, more often than not, employees were not aware of or encouraged to utilise the schemes available.”
Within just three months of taking over the schemes there was a 30% increase in uptake across all organisations.
But what other issues should employers think about before changing supplier?
Tracy Wilson, operations manager at Co-operative Employee Benefits, says that a key issue is minimising the effect on employees during the transition and, before committing to another provider, employers should ask themselves:
1. How easy is the scheme to administer for employer and employees?
2. How reliable is the provider? Are employees’ voucher accounts credited on time?
3. How financially secure is the provider?
4. How easy is it to contact the provider with any queries?
Grass Roots Group’s managing director Paul Bartlett says: “While change should not be seen as frightening, it should not be entered into lightly either. Continual upheaval to the participants and their carers will not support childcare voucher schemes as a benefit which improves retention and loyalty.”
Laura Czapiewski, product manager for childcare vouchers at Edenred, believes that it is for the new provider to prove it has the processes in place to guarantee a seamless transfer with as little disruption as possible for the employees.
“They should also consider the customer services key performance indicators to ensure that the needs of themselves, their employees and their carers are met. In addition, they should consider the additional benefits offered by the incumbent and new provider to ensure their employees are happy with the switch.”