17/11/2003

Belfast seminar to tackle childcare barriers

A seminar aimed at removing childcare barriers for women in full time work is to take place in Belfast next week.

'Employer-supported Childcare – the Business Benefits' is a half-day event which aims to provide employers with all the information necessary to enable them to implement a childcare strategy in their organisation, tailored to specific and employee needs.

Research carried out by the charity earlier this year indicated that the cost and availability of quality childcare are the main factors preventing women from returning to work.

Commenting on the seminar, General Manager of Employers For Childcare, Marie Marin said: “Employers who attend our seminar will find out that they could be doing a lot more to help staff access and pay for childcare, at no additional cost to the company. Childcare is an important investment in the struggle to recruit and retain working parents.

“As yet there are very few examples of on-site childcare provision in Northern Ireland, but it is becoming a more common set-up in the Republic and many employers in the United States provide these facilities."

In response to several major changes to legislation in the last year, the keynote address will be given by Daragh Shields, Deputy Director of Regional Operations for DEL (Department for Employment & Learning), who will provide an overview of current policy on working parents and childcare in Northern Ireland.

A major focus of the seminar will be the tax and NIC advantages available to both employers and employees in providing and contributing to childcare costs. Guest speaker, Geraldine Brown, Manager, Tax and Legal Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers said: “There are significant tax savings, benefits and incentives available to working parents paying for childcare. The Employers For Childcare Voucher scheme is just one of the money-saving ideas we will be looking at.

"It is simple to set up, it can save employees up to one month’s childcare a year and it can save employers almost 13% on the value of childcare vouchers purchased on their employees’ behalf. These savings are readily available with a little know-how.”

Established in June 2002, Employers For Childcare provides advice and support to working parents and employers in overcoming the difficulties of finding suitable childcare.

Next Wednesday's event takes place at Belfast Castle.

(MB)

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