New employer-focused ‘Guide to Childcare’ supports employees and boosts economy

Published on 05 September 2022
Added by Keelin Kelly

As labour shortages and staff retention continues to impact the economy, the issues associated with accessing or affording appropriate childcare - viewed by many parents as one of the main barriers to employment – have been addressed in a new Guide for Employers.


Working with the Labour Relations Agency (LRA), the Department for the Economy has launched, in conjunction with other stakeholders, the Employers Guide to Childcare.

The Guide contains the very latest advice to ensure employers and employees know exactly what support is available and how it can be accessed.

The Guide also acknowledges the extent to which working parents offer widespread societal and economic benefits. This is reflected in recent research by Employers for Childcare, which revealed that 98% of parents believe quality childcare provision is good for their children, good for them and good for the economy*.

However, with a full-time childcare place costing an average of £170 per week (2021) and almost certainly rising in line with the spiralling cost of living, and with 54% of families reporting challenges in accessing the childcare they need*, many decide work is not a viable option.

The research also revealed that one third of parents aren’t claiming any financial support towards the cost of their childcare – with many unaware of what support is available.

Likewise, businesses seem largely unaware of the government support which their employees can access to subsidise childcare costs.  As this support is available with no cost implications for the employer, it not only makes childcare more affordable, but it also helps businesses recruit and retain the staff they need. 

Helen Smyth, Advisory and Economic Development Manager of the LRA explains:

“Faced with a cost-of-living crisis, spiralling inflation, and a challenging labour market, the advice outlined in this new Guide is practical, valuable and supportive.

“It is next in a series of workplace guides which form part of our Employment Document Toolkit relating to family-friendly working practices.  We’ve found the appetite for such information has spiked, particularly in a post pandemic society, where issues such as hybrid or flexible working are so pertinent. 

“The benefits of such positive working practices are many as they empower employers, help attract and retain talent, improve productivity, and reduce the gender pay gap.”

The Guide is available from


*NI Childcare Survey 2021, published by Employers for Childcare and completed by 2200 parents and childcare providers.