We've been looking at this too - but from a different perspective. We have been asked whether it would be possible for departments/research grants to pay for any additional childcare costs researchers incurred outside their normal working hours, particularly to attend conferences.
We have been wary about whether we would want to encourage departments to introduce a scheme just for childcare costs, precisely because we would want any scheme to provide equal treatment for those with caring responsibilities other than for children - and the cost implications would then be considerable.
But on the tax point in particular, the advice we have had is that, if an employee is in receipt of childcare vouchers/salary sacrifice benefit etc, the tax benefit would extend to the additional child care regardless of the timing of that care. However, if the employee is reimbursed directly for the cost of any care, this would be deemed by HMRC to be a taxable benefit.
Dear Equality colleagues
We have a member of our academic staff whose spouse has advanced MS and cannot be left unattended. The result is that the academic cannot attend a conference unless the spouse is provided with respite care, at a cost of around £100 per day. We are discussing whether it would be reasonable for that care to be reimbursed/paid for by the University as his employer. This would be on the grounds of it being a reasonable adjustment for someone who is experiencing disability by association.
We have asked HMRC who said that “the costs are not covered by an HMRC income tax exemption nor can we claim that they are incurred in the performance of the duties of an employee’s employment”. So it would not go through the expenses system without tax free. I wonder if they have considered the implications of the Equality Act?
Does anyone have experience of this sort of query? Any suggestions?
Equality and Diversity Adviser (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
Newcastle upon Tyne