Archive Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Archive brought to you by Cross Stitch UK

Main menu

Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Benefits and help for parents going back to work

If you are 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.

Tax credits

If you've got children you could get tax credits, but you don't need to have children to claim. You may also qualify if you are working and on a low income.

Child Tax Credit

If you're responsible for at least one child or young person, you may qualify for Child Tax Credit.

Working Tax Credit

If you're working and you're on a low income, you may be able to get Working Tax Credit.

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 70 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

In Work Credit

In Work Credit is a tax-free payment of £40 per week (£60 in London) for parents bringing up children alone. It is payable for up to 52 weeks on top of your earnings.

Who is eligible

If your benefit claim begins before 1 October 2023 you may get In Work Credit if you:

  • are bringing up children on your own
  • have a child living with you who is under the age of 16
  • are starting work of at least 16 hours a week on average and getting a wage or salary that meets the National Minimum Wage (or you're self employed)
  • expect that work to last five weeks or more

Find out what the National Minimum Wage rates are by using the following link.

You must also have been out of work for at least 52 weeks before you start work and getting:

  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

ESA will only count if you:

  • lost entitlement to Income Support due to the age of your youngest child
  • were unable to claim Jobseeker's allowance because you were ill

If you live in London and get the following benefits you could also get In Work Credit:

  • Incapacity Benefit
  • ESA
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Carers Allowance

Changes to In Work Credit will be brought in for new claims to benefit from October 2012 onwards. This means there will be no new payments of In Work Credit from 1 October 2013.

Payments already in place on 1 October 2023 will continue for up to 52 weeks, as long as you meet the rules for getting the payment.

More about In Work Credit

The claim form for In Work Credit must be completed and returned to your nearest Jobcentre Plus office within five weeks of starting work.

For more information about In Work Credit, please contact Jobcentre Plus.

Time off and flexible working

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.

Flexible working

Flexible working lets you ask your employer for a new working pattern to help you care for your child. You have a right to request a flexible working pattern if you've got a child aged 16 or under, or a disabled child under 18. Your employer has to consider your request seriously.

To have the right to ask for flexible working, you must:

  • have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks
  • be the child's mother, father, adopter, legal guardian or foster parent - or be the partner of one of these
  • have responsibility for the child's upbringing
  • be making the application so that you'll be able to care for the child

You'll need to fill in an application form when you apply for flexible working. You can only make one application a year.

Job Grant

Job Grant is a one-off tax free payment you may get when you start working for at least 16 hours a week and stop getting benefits.

You may be eligible for a Job Grant if you have been claiming one of the following benefits:

  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance

Your benefit claim must begin before 1 October 2012.

Find out more about Job Grant using the link below.

How child maintenance affects your benefits

Since 12 April 2010, you can keep all of the maintenance that you are paid without it affecting your benefit entitlement. However, you must continue to tell Jobcentre Plus about any maintenance payments you get.

Find out more about maintenance and benefits on the Child Maintenance Options website.

Information leaflets from Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus have produced a leaflet that gives you more information about the help you can get if your partner is claiming benefit. Find out more using the following link.

Additional links

Simpler, Clearer, Faster

Try GOV.UK now

From 17 October, GOV.UK will be the best place to find government services and information

Access keys