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Childcare - becoming a working parent

Starting a new job or returning to a career when you are a parent can be an exciting and challenging time.


Getting used to balancing the needs of your family and the demands of paid employment can take time. Having confidence in your childcare arrangements helps. And don't forget you will have acquired useful new skills by becoming a parent which could include: time management, budget management, negotiation skills and flexibility.

Balancing work and home

Employers who provide family friendly arrangements to help their employees could gain from

  • more loyal staff who don't need to take unauthorised leave
  • an increase in the number of staff who return to work after maternity leave
  • experienced and skilled staff staying on after they have children
  • good returns on investment in training staff
  • high levels of staff productivity
  • better public image

So discuss your needs with your employer or trade union representative.

Childcare help for employees

Your employer could benefit from getting involved in childcare. Your employer could:

  • provide childcare information for you
  • provide information about paying for childcare and the childcare tax credit in Working Tax Credit and Disabled Person's Tax Credit
  • buy some childcare places in local childcare services
  • start up childcare services in partnership with others
  • provide Childcare Vouchers or childcare allowances to help you pay for childcare

You may benefit from receiving Tax Free Childcare. The Childcare service webpages will help you see if you may be eligible for this.

Taking time off work

Sometimes you may need to take time off to be with your children.

Maternity leave is paid leave, sometimes with unpaid leave as well, for pregnant women to take around the time their baby is born. If employed, maternity leave gives the right to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Maternity leave. This is known as Statutory Maternity Leave. To qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave, you must be an employee.

Parental leave - parents and adoptive parents have the right to take up to 13 weeks unpaid time off work over the first five years to care for each child. To qualify, you must be an employee and have at least one year's continuous service where you work.

Paternity leave - to qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must be an employee. You must be taking time of to support the mother or carer for the baby and must intend to be involved in the child's upbringing. To qualify, you must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by either the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due or the end of the week you are notified that you are matched with your child.

Flexible work

Sometimes you may need to fit your job around the demands of your family, especially while your children are young, when they are coping with new circumstances or if you have a child with disabilities or particular needs. Here are some options to discuss with your employer:

  • working part-time or reduced hours
  • job-sharing
  • term-time working
  • flexi-time - allowing you to choose your hours within set limits
  • career break - unpaid time away from your job
  • sabbatical - paid time away from your job
  • teleworking - working from home

Arranging childcare at short notice

Every parent using childcare finds that there comes a time when emergency childcare could be needed. You could:

  • build up a list of possible childcarers your child knows well - perhaps childminders who are friends with your childminder, for example
  • reserve some annual leave for emergencies

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 11 Sep 2017 at 14:05