Childcare Vouchers

Childcare Vouchers

Save money on your childcare costs

Our childcare voucher scheme is a government initiative that allows working parents like you to save on their childcare costs. The vouchers are taken from your salary before your usual Tax and NI contributions are deducted so the vouchers could save you up to £933. 

About the Sodexo childcare voucher scheme

Our childcare voucher scheme is a government initiative that allows working parents like you to save on their childcare costs.

The vouchers are taken from your salary before your usual Tax and NI contributions are deducted so the vouchers could save you up to £933 on childcare costs each year – or £1,866 if your partner also signs up to the scheme. 

To qualify for these savings, simply find out if your employer has our childcare voucher scheme in place.

Let your employer know about the scheme now >

Why use our childcare vouchers?

  • They’re a simple and straightforward way to pay for childcare – you can save up to £933 per year.
  • You can use them to cover the cost of care for children up to the age of 15 and even to pay for registered childcare including before and after school clubs, certain elements of Independent school fees and holiday camps.
  • Childcare vouchers can be saved up in your online account so you can get the maximum allowance now and save it for a rainy day.
  • What’s more, to help your money go that extra mile, Sodexo is now able to offer you exclusive discounts on activities for children up to the age of 15.
  • Your savings won’t be affected by how many children you have – you could still save up to £933 per year even if you have just one child.
  1. What are childcare vouchers?
  2. How do I join the Sodexo childcare voucher service?
  3. How can I contact you?
  4. Can I receive vouchers without access to the Internet?
  5. Will childcare vouchers affect my Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit pay?
  6. Do I have to pay back tax and NI on unused vouchers?
  7. How do I use the childcare voucher service?
  8. Will childcare vouchers affect my Statutory Maternity or Paternity Pay? What are my options whilst on maternity leave?
  9. Will childcare vouchers affect my pension scheme?
  10. What will happen when the scheme changes in 2015?
  11. How can the voucher scheme save me money?
  12. How much can I take in vouchers?
  13. How do e-vouchers work?
  14. Can I use any kind of childcare?
  15. What will my payslip show?
  16. What if my childcare provider isn’t registered?
  17. Can I apply for vouchers for more than one child?
  18. How do I leave the scheme?
  19. What do I do if my vouchers have expired?
  20. Do vouchers have an expiry date?
  21. Can anyone apply for vouchers?
  22. Can I use more than one childcare provider?
  23. Can my partner and I both apply for vouchers?
  24. What happens when I join?
  25. How long do I have to sign up for?
  26. Can I join at any time?
  27. Will my overtime payments be affected?
  28. Are childcare vouchers available for the self-employed?
  29. Is there a limit to the amount of vouchers I can have?

What are childcare vouchers?

Childcare vouchers are a Government initiative to help working parents. The most common method of offering childcare vouchers is through your salary; parents elect to take part of their existing salary as childcare vouchers. Your employer then orders your vouchers and you receive them electronically on the day specified, usually your payday. You then use these e-vouchers to pay your childcare provider directly online.

How do I join the Sodexo childcare voucher service?

Your employer has to put the childcare voucher service in place before you can join it. If your employer doesn’t have a scheme in place, why not let them know about the childcare voucher service from Sodexo? Once your employer has joined the service, they will invite you to join and our online tools will guide you through the process:

Step 1. You create an individual account

Step 2. You add the details of your childcare provider(s) to your account

Step 3. Your employer orders vouchers for you

Step 4. The vouchers show up as credit in your individual account

Step 5. You can pay your childcare provider(s) directly from your online account.

How can I contact you?

If you would like further advice or information, please get in touch with the team.

Email: customercare.br.uk@sodexo.com

Phone: 0800 328 7411*

Address: Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services,

Unit 5 Albany Court, Albany Park

Frimley Road, Camberley, Surrey GU16 7QR

*Please note all calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.

Can I receive vouchers without access to the Internet?

If you temporarily lose access to the internet, you can manage your account by calling our friendly customer care team on 0800 328 7411. 

Will childcare vouchers affect my Working Tax Credit or Child Tax Credit pay?

Taking childcare vouchers may have an effect on Tax Credits. Because every family’s situation is different, we can’t comment on your individual circumstances, but HM Revenue & Customs have a Tax Credits helpline on 0845 300 3900 which may help you decide what is best for your family. They also have an online tool to help you decide whether you’ll benefit from childcare vouchers.

Do I have to pay back tax and NI on unused vouchers?

No, as long as the vouchers have not expired, you can use them the following tax year.

How do I use the childcare voucher service?

Your employer will register with us to provide childcare vouchers. You will then be able to set up your personal online account and select the amount you need in vouchers. When your employer orders vouchers for you, they will be credited to your online account and you can use this to pay your children’s childcare provider directly.

Will childcare vouchers affect my Statutory Maternity or Paternity Pay? What are my options whilst on maternity leave?

You have 3 options in relation to your childcare vouchers whilst on maternity leave:

Option 1 - You can withdraw from the childcare voucher scheme (prior to the ‘qualifying period’).  This will ensure that your SMP calculations are based on your higher salary (not including your salary sacrifice deductions).  If you withdraw from the Scheme your childcare vouchers would cease from this date.

Option 2- You can opt out of the childcare voucher scheme during the period which SMP is calculated (the 'qualifying period').  This is a period of 8 weeks between approximately week 17 and week 25 of pregnancy.  A woman could opt out during this period and then re-join the scheme after week 25 which means the company would cover her vouchers during her maternity leave and her SMP would not be affected.

Option 3- You can remain in the childcare voucher scheme during the qualifying period and maternity leave.  Whilst SMP will then be calculated at the lower rate (after salary sacrifice deductions).  As your SMP is being calculated on your lower salary, no further deductions can be taken off SMP.  Whilst you are on maternity leave and receiving SMP, your voucher costs will be covered by the company and you will continue to receive your childcare vouchers during this time.

If you will be receiving contractual or occupational maternity pay, you may be able to continue to salary sacrifice until you revert to statutory maternity pay (including the 'no pay' period).  Please consult your HR department for further guidance.

Before making your decision, you should seek advice from any relevant agencies in relation to Tax Credit Implications or ongoing childcare costs.

Will childcare vouchers affect my pension scheme?

The impact on the state pension scheme (S2P or SERPS) is likely to be negligible. Most other pension providers are happy to accept childcare vouchers as notional pay. Ask your employer for confirmation of whether your pension contributions are affected. If you are contributing to a personal pension, you are unlikely to be affected by taking childcare vouchers, but we recommend that you seek advisement on this.

What will happen when the scheme changes in 2015?

The 'employer supported childcare' (ESC) voucher scheme will not be changing until the end of 2015 – and even then it will only be gradually phased out.

As an existing member of an ESC voucher scheme, you will be able to choose whether you continue to receive your current childcare vouchers or switch to the new scheme in Autumn 2015. This is a great position to be in – you can simply select the scheme that is more financially beneficial for you.

For more information about the new system that will be launching in Autumn 2015 take a look at this helpful diagram from the Treasury

Remember, there are benefits to ESC vouchers:

  • They are available now (the new scheme doesn’t come into effect until 2015).
  • Some parents may be better off with the existing childcare voucher system. Those parents can still choose to take childcare vouchers over the new scheme until it is completely phased in.
  • Your existing childcare vouchers can be used to pay for registered childcare until your child is 15, (the new scheme will only be available to pay for childcare up until a child is 5 years old initially).
  • Your existing childcare vouchers are available to families where only 1 parent works, (the new scheme requires both parents to be working).
  • The current vouchers are available to higher earning working parents, (the new scheme is not available to parents earning over £150,000).

Do you want to know more about Tax-Free Childcare?

How can the voucher scheme save me money?

Childcare vouchers are free from tax and NI contributions for the value of vouchers you order. The amount you can salary sacrifice depends on your earnings threshold.

Changes to childcare voucher entitlements and eligibility will come into effect from April. This may affect which earnings threshold you fall into and, as a result, may alter the maximum amount you can take in childcare vouchers. Please see below the eligibility brackets and employee savings tables as of April 6th 2014.

The amount you save depends on your rate of tax, the amount of NI you pay and the total value of vouchers you redeem every year.

  Maximum Voucher Allowance  
Total Earnings*/Rate Weekly Monthly Yearly

Max savings per Annum

Basic Rate £0-£41,865 £55 £243 £2,915 £933
Higher Rate £41,865-£150,000 £28 £124 £1,484 £623
Additional Rate Over £150,000 £25 £110 £1,325 £622

 

*Total earnings include salary, other taxable benefits and allowances. Please speak to your HR department if you are unsure of the value of tax and NI exempt childcare vouchers you are entitled to take.

Any amount over the amounts stated above is liable to tax and NI Contributions.

**These savings are subject to changes by HMRC

How much can I take in vouchers?

The amount you can take in vouchers depends on your earnings threshold, this will be calculated by your employer for a Basic Earnings Assessment.

Changes to childcare voucher entitlements and eligibility will come into effect from April. This may affect which earnings threshold you fall into and, as a result, may alter the maximum amount you can take in childcare vouchers. Please see below the eligibility brackets and employee savings tables as of April 6th 2014.

Any amount over the amounts stated above is liable to tax and NI Contributions.

  Maximum Voucher Allowance  
Total Earnings*/Rate Weekly Monthly Yearly

Max savings per Annum

Basic Rate £0-£41,865 £55 £243 £2,915 £933
Higher Rate £41,865-£150,000 £28 £124 £1,484 £623
Additional Rate Over £150,000 £25 £110 £1,325 £622

 

 

 

 

 

*Total earnings include salary, other taxable benefits and allowances. Please speak to your HR department if you are unsure of the value of tax and NI exempt childcare vouchers you are entitled to take.

** These allowances are subject to change by HMRC.

 When taking childcare vouchers, you must check that your salary doesn’t fall below the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL). This is to make sure that you continue to pay enough National Insurance to be eligible for state benefits, including Statutory Sick Pay. You must always remain above National Minimum Wage after salary sacrifice. 

How do e-vouchers work?

E-vouchers work in a similar way to online banking. You are given a personal e-voucher account that you access to arrange payment directly into your childcare provider’s bank account. You can easily monitor your payments and make them when it suits you or set up a regular payment for a set amount. This will go directly into your childcare provider's bank account on a set day every month.

Can I use any kind of childcare?

You can only use the vouchers to pay for registered childcare. This includes out-of-hours school clubs, childminders, nurseries, music and drama lessons, holiday clubs, activity holidays and certain elements of Independent school fees.

Many childcare providers are already registered and are happy to take childcare vouchers. If your childcare provider is not registered, we have information for them on how to register in the childcare provider section of this website.

What will my payslip show?

Your vouchers may or may not appear on your payslip. Often your salary is shown with the voucher cost deducted and the voucher value is shown separately. The reduced tax and National Insurance contributions are then shown on the opposite side of the payslip.

What if my childcare provider isn’t registered?

Your childcare provider has to demonstrate they are registered if you want to pay them using childcare vouchers. If your childcare provider is regulated by a national body such as Ofsted they should have a registration number and a certificate. 

Can I apply for vouchers for more than one child?

You can pay for as many children and childcare providers as you wish with your vouchers, but the amount of vouchers that can be taken is limited to the amounts specified below.

Changes to childcare voucher entitlements and eligibility will come into effect from April. This may affect which earnings threshold you fall into and, as a result, may alter the maximum amount you can take in childcare vouchers. Please see below the eligibility brackets and employee savings tables as of April 6th 2014.

Any amount over the amounts stated above is liable to tax and NI Contributions.

  Maximum Voucher Allowance  
Total Earnings*/Rate Weekly Monthly Yearly

Max savings per Annum

Basic Rate £0-£41,865 £55 £243 £2,915 £933
Higher Rate £41,865-£150,000 £28 £124 £1,484 £623
Additional Rate Over £150,000 £25 £110 £1,325 £622

 

*Total earnings include salary, other taxable benefits and allowances. Please speak to your HR department if you are unsure of the value of tax and NI exempt childcare vouchers you are entitled to take.

 If both parents claim vouchers, the benefit is doubled.

How do I leave the scheme?

Simply access your online account and request to leave the scheme. If you do not see this option in your online childcare voucher account , please speak to your usual HR contact.

Please note, it is your employer’s decision whether you can be reimbursed for any remaining vouchers. If this is agreed, you will have to pay the tax and NI contributions on the reimbursed amount through payroll.

Also please bear in mind that you will also be considered a new joiner if you wish to re-join your current employer's scheme after 12 months. If you leave your current employer, and were subject to pre-April 2011 scheme guidelines you will be considered a new joiner. This will mean that you will be subject to the guidelines of the new scheme, which may reduce the amount you save.

What do I do if my vouchers have expired?

Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services have replaced vouchers for a further 15 - 18 months in the past. Contact us to find out more, either directly or by replying to your voucher expiry email.

Do vouchers have an expiry date?

Vouchers last for 15 -18 months, so you can save them up for times when you may need extra childcare throughout the year.

Can anyone apply for vouchers?

To take childcare vouchers you must fulfill the following criteria:

  • You must be the parent or step parent, or live with and have parental responsibility for the child.
  • Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for care up to 1st September following the child’s 15th birthday, or 1st September following their 16th birthday if the child is disabled.
  • You must use the vouchers to pay for registered childcare.

You can find out more on the HM Revenue & Customs website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/childcare.

Can I use more than one childcare provider?

You can pay as many childcare providers as you wish, as long as they are registered with Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services. If you wish to add a childcare provider to your account, simply go online and add them using our comprehensive system. Please note all calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.

Can my partner and I both apply for vouchers?

Yes, the amount of vouchers that a parent can take is limited to the amounts illustrated below, irrespective of how many children you have. So you could maximise your savings by ensuring that you both take part in a childcare voucher scheme. If your partner’s employer is not currently running a scheme, call us on freephone 0800 328 7411 and ask for more information.

(Please note all calls are recorded for training and quality purposes).

Changes to childcare voucher entitlements and eligibility will come into effect from April. This may affect which earnings threshold you fall into and, as a result, may alter the maximum amount you can take in childcare vouchers. Please see below the eligibility brackets and employee savings tables as of April 6th 2014.

Any amount over the amounts stated above is liable to tax and NI Contributions.

  Maximum Voucher Allowance  
Total Earnings*/Rate Weekly Monthly Yearly

Max savings per Annum

Basic Rate £0-£41,865 £55 £243 £2,915 £933
Higher Rate £41,865-£150,000 £28 £124 £1,484 £623
Additional Rate Over £150,000 £25 £110 £1,325 £622

 

 

*Total earnings include salary, other taxable benefits and allowances. Please speak to your HR department if you are unsure of the value of tax and NI exempt childcare vouchers you are entitled to take.

What happens when I join?

Once you have registered with us, you will be sent a confirmation email. You can access your e-voucher account at any time using your user name and password.

How long do I have to sign up for?

HMRC guidance suggests that you can leave the scheme at any time. However, we ask that you stay for a minimum of one month to avoid unnecessary administration. It is also worth bearing in mind that your employer may not allow you to re-join the scheme for a specified period of time.

Can I join at any time?

Your employer will decide on the joining dates for the childcare voucher scheme – check with them for more information.

Will my overtime payments be affected?

Most employers are happy to accept childcare vouchers as pay when calculating overtime, so your payments should not be affected by taking childcare vouchers. Check with your employer.

Are childcare vouchers available for the self-employed?

Presently the government doesn’t allow self-employed parents to take part in employer-supported childcare voucher schemes. This is because they do not pay tax under PAYE, so are not entitled to the savings on tax and NI contributions of childcare vouchers.

At Sodexo we are currently lobbying the government to allow childcare vouchers to be extended to self-employed parents. To find out more visit the news section.

Is there a limit to the amount of vouchers I can have?

If you were already participating in your employers’ childcare voucher scheme before 6th April 2011 HM Revenue & Customs allows you to take a total of £2,915 per calendar year, generally as £55 per week or £243 per calendar month.

If you joined on or after 6th April 2011, your employer will carry out a Basic Earnings Assessment (BEA) and the result from this BEA will tell you how much you can receive in childcare vouchers.

Tell your employer now about our Sodexo childcare vouchers scheme to start saving up to £933 on your childcare costs!

Let your employer know about the Sodexo scheme now >

The Queen’s speech set out a proposed government bill for a new Tax-Free Childcare Scheme in autumn 2014, which if passed, would close its current Childcare Voucher Scheme to new entrants. If you already take childcare vouchers you can continue to do so if the new system comes into effect. If you don’t, you might want to consider signing up before the new scheme comes into effect.

Many parents could be better off taking childcare vouchers. As you can remain on your current scheme even if Tax-Free Childcare is introduced, it is worth comparing the two childcare schemes to see which suits you and your family best. Tax-Free Childcare vs. Childcare Vouchers >>

The current Childcare Voucher Scheme is a government initiative designed to help parents pay for childcare for children up to the age of 15. Childcare vouchers are taken from your salary before your usual Tax and NI contributions are deducted so, each year, you could save up to £933. And if both parents claim, that can be over £1,800 a year – enough to pay for a great family holiday!

Confused about Tax-Free Childcare?

The Tax-Free Childcare Info Hub has been designed to provide you with essential information about the current Childcare Voucher Scheme and the government’s proposed Tax-Free Childcare. To find out more visit www.tax-free-childcare.info

Latest News

22/07/2014 | Tax-Free Childcare Info Hub

Outlines the government's changes to the childcare system
Read more

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Call our customer service 0800 328 7411

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Testimonials

Fantastic

The offers from Sodexo have really been fantastic. Not only have I made great savings on my childcare but I have discovered new activities for my kids this summer

Becky Mother of 2, Woking

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