Childcare in the NHS

Carer and children doing crafts

Parents often find that combining work and family responsibilities can be challenging - even more so when they work in an organisation that delivers care 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Being able to access high-quality childcare that is both accessible and affordable is essential to a healthy work-life balance.

The benefits of employer-supported childcare can include being known as a family-friendly employer, better recruitment and retention of staff, reduced absenteeism, a more motivated workforce, as well as financial savings for employers and employees.

Supporting staff

Employers can support staff who have childcare responsibilities and who want to continue working in a variety of ways:

  • by providing information and guidance on government support available, for example tax credit system, voucher schemes and where to go for advice

  • by reviewing their working practices, for example, moving towards family-friendly policies, flexible working options

  • by supporting childcare needs of their employees by liaising with and supplying information on the location of local nurseries and childminders

  • by providing on-site nurseries where possible, or private finance Initiatives to provide nursery places locally.

Financial help for childcare costs

Tax credit

You may be able to claim Child Tax Credit if you’re responsible for children either:

  • aged 16 or under - you can claim up until 31 August after their 16th birthday
  • under 20 and in eligible education or training
  • you do not need to be working to claim Child Tax Credit.
  • only one household can get Child Tax Credit for a child.

For more information on this visit the website.

Tax free childcare

You can get up to £500 every three months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. If you get Tax-Free Childcare, the government will pay £2 for every £8 you pay your childcare provider via an online account. You can use it to pay for approved childcare. You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare if you’re eligible for both.

For more information on this visit the website.

Child benefit

This is a regular payment made to anyone bringing up a child or young person under 16, or under 20 if they stay in approved education or training. There is no limit to how many children you can claim for. For further information on child benefit and the rates visit the website.

Members of staff could also receive Guardian's Allowance if they are bringing up someone else's child because one or both parents have died.  This is paid on top of child benefit and is tax free. For more information on guardians allowance visit the website. 

Childcare vouchers

The childcare voucher scheme and childcare your employer arranged with a provider (known as "directly contracted childcare") closed to new applicants on 4 October 2018. If you joined one of these schemes on or before the 4 October 2018 you can continue with either scheme 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.

For more information on this visit the the website.

Bursary funded students

All NHS bursary-funded students who have dependent children can apply for extra help with childcare costs. The allowance is intended as a non taxable additional means of help towards childcare costs and will not normally cover all your costs. The childcare allowance pays up to 85 per cent of your childcare costs up to a net maximum of £128.78 per week for one child and £191.45 per two or more children. The childcare allowance is subject to means testing for all students in the same way as the other  NHS bursary additional allowances.

More detailed information is available from the NHS Bursary website


Why Register?

Great reasons to register with NHS Employers

  • A personalised website
    Manage your profile and select topics of interest to you
  • Access your dashboard
    Bookmark useful content to help you quickly find what you're looking for
  • Get involved
    Contribute to our Talking Points discussions, comment on and rate our webpages
  • Keep up to date
    Receive the latest newsletters and media summaries

Log In