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Returning to Work

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back to workIf you're going back to work and you've got children you can get financial and practical help with childcare. From tax credits to flexible working arrangements, there's lots of support available to make your life easier.

Early years education

All three and four year olds are entitled to up to five two-and-a-half hour daily sessions a week, for three terms each year, with a 'registered provider' such as a school, nursery or playgroup. Some large employers provide registered early years education at the workplace. You can also use a registered childminder if they're part of an approved childminding network.


Child Tax Credit

Child Tax Credit is a means-tested allowance for parents and carers of children or young people who are still in full-time education. Nine out of ten families with children qualify for Child Tax Credit.

Working Tax Credit

If you're working more than 16 hours a week and you're on a low income, you may be able to get Working Tax Credit too.

The Working Tax Credit includes a specific element to support the cost of registered childcare for working parents. The childcare element can help with up to 80 per cent of your eligible childcare costs.

There are limits on the weekly costs you can claim. If you pay childcare for:

  • One child, the maximum you can claim is £175 a week
  • Two or more children, the maximum is £300 a week

Time off ('parental leave')

If you're a working parent, you can take up to 13 weeks' parental leave for each child until their fifth birthday (you get more than this if you have a disabled child). Your employer doesn't have to pay you when you take this leave, but they might as part of your employment package. To be entitled to this time off you must:

  • Have parental responsibility for the child
  • Have worked for your employer for at least one year before you take it
  • Give your employer at least 21 days' notice - and the dates when your leave will start and finish

You normally have to take parental leave in blocks of one week or more, up to a maximum of four weeks a year for each child. But your employer may let you take parental leave in shorter blocks. If your child is entitled to Disability Living Allowance then you can take your leave a day at a time if you want.

If your employer thinks your absence would disrupt the business then they can usually postpone your leave for up to six months after the date you asked for.

Find out more info about maternity leave rights and finding childcare on our website.

*information provided by DirectGov, www.direct.gov.uk, © Crown Copyright