Childcare vouchers and other employer schemes

The following schemes are closed to new applicants:

  • childcare vouchers
  • childcare your employer arranges with a provider (known as ‘directly contracted childcare’)

If you joined one of these schemes on or before 4 October 2018 you might be able to keep getting vouchers or directly contracted childcare.

If you joined a childcare voucher scheme or a directly contracted childcare scheme on or before 4 October 2018

You can keep getting vouchers or directly contracted childcare as long as:

  • your wages were adjusted on or before 4 October 2018
  • you stay with the same employer and they continue to run the scheme
  • you do not take an unpaid career break of longer than a year

You can take up to £55 a week of your wages, which you do not pay tax or National Insurance on.

How much you can take depends on the amount you earn and when you joined the scheme.

If you get Tax-Free Childcare

You cannot continue to claim childcare vouchers or directly contracted childcare if you successfully apply for Tax-Free Childcare.

Which scheme you’re better off with depends on your situation. Use the childcare calculator to work out which type of support is best for you.

You must tell your employer within 90 days if you get Tax-Free Childcare. They’ll then stop giving you new vouchers or directly contracted childcare.

You can continue to use any vouchers you already have, including to make a joint payment for childcare with Tax-Free Childcare. There’s no deadline for using your vouchers or directly contracted childcare.

Once you’ve told your employer that you’re getting Tax-Free Childcare, you cannot rejoin their voucher scheme or their directly contracted childcare scheme.

Tax and employer childcare schemes

You do not have to pay tax and National Insurance on:

  • childcare vouchers, if you joined a scheme and your wages were adjusted on or before 4 October 2018
  • directly contracted childcare, if you joined a scheme and your wages were adjusted on or before 4 October 2018
  • workplace nurseries

You must pay tax and National Insurance on:

  • cash your employer gives you to pay for childcare
  • childcare provider’s fees your employer pays
  • school fees your employer pays
  1. Step 1 Find out if you can get help with childcare costs

  2. and Find where you can get childcare

  3. Step 2 Get help paying for childcare

    You can get help with childcare costs for children under 18. You might be able to apply for:

    You could also get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4. You might be able to apply for:

    You can only get childcare vouchers if you have already joined a scheme.

    1. You are currently viewing: Check the rules for childcare vouchers
  4. Step 3 Check what to do if your circumstances change

    Tell government straight away if your circumstances change and you're getting:

    If you're getting 30 hours free childcare or Tax-Free Childcare you have to confirm if your details are up to date every 3 months.

    1. Sign into your childcare account to find out when you next have to check your details

    Your eligibility for support with childcare costs might also change.

    1. Check if your eligibility for help with childcare costs has changed
  5. Step 4 Check what to do when your child reaches school age

    Your child starts primary school the September after they turn 4.

    1. Apply for a primary school place
    2. Find before and after school and holiday clubs

    You might be able to use help like tax credits or Tax-Free Childcare to pay for childcare like wraparound care, after school clubs or other activities.