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Practices obliged to bear costs of salary sacrifice schemes during maternity leave

Practices have been warned of a loophole that could see them paying additional costs when staff go on maternity pay.

Cambridge LMCs have been helping one practice whose staff member had been receiving childcare vouchers, which was funded through her own salary as part of a salary sacrifice scheme.

However, when she went on maternity leave and started receiving statutory maternity pay, the practice had to take on the costs for the childcare vouchers, and were not entitled to recoup these costs when reclaiming the costs of maternity pay.

Cambridge LMCs wrote: ‘We were in contact recently with a practice that was offering the salary sacrifice childcare voucher scheme to their employees and unexpectedly ended up with some costs to the practice as a result.

‘[Under the scheme] the employee funds the vouchers from their own salary, but if the employee is receiving statutory pay only then the employer is obliged to bear the cost of the childcare vouchers. Practices need to be aware of this requirement if they are considering offering the scheme to their employees.’

The 2015/16 GMS contract made it mandatory for NHS England to reimburse practice’s costs when GP partners take maternity leave, ending the patchwork variation in cover that used to exist.

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