HMRC urged to reverse nursery closures
Monday, September 3, 2012
The trade union that represents staff at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is calling on the authority to reverse its decision to close its eight staff nurseries across the UK.
The nurseries will shut in November, when the contract between HMRC's landlord Mapeley and its early years provider Bright Horizons ends.
HMRC said its staff underuse the nurseries, and argued that childcare is not "its core business".
But Gareth Hills, president of trade union the Association of Revenue and Customs urged HMRC to reconsider.
He said: "It is very disappointing that a large organisation that positions itself as a modern employer has taken this decision. They claim that the nurseries are underused, but are not giving any figures to back that up.
"From what we have heard some of the nurseries are well used by HMRC staff and where there are vacancies they are being taken up by the local community and other public sector staff.
"We have asked HMRC for more information to back up their claims and also urge them to reconsider."
HMRC has declined to reveal how many vacancies the nurseries have. Bright Horizons also declined to comment.
But a HMRC spokeswoman said: "It's not about cost. The contract has been extended as much as possible and HMRC has taken the decision to stop providing childcare facilities as it is not part of our core business, which is collecting revenue and paying out benefits and credits. We will continue to provide support to staff through the childcare voucher scheme."
The nurseries that will close are in Manchester, Wolverhampton, Leicestershire, Leeds, Nottingham, Blackburn, Lancashire, Cardiff and Glasgow.
The Family and Parenting Institute is planning to work with HMRC to support staff with any childcare issues that result from the closures.
A spokesman for the charity said: "HMRC joined our Family Friendly charity scheme in late 2011, to develop the way it supports both staff and customers as family members.
"HMRC offers a range of support to its staff with children, including flexible working, childcare vouchers, family leave and employee support, to help workers balance careers with family life.
"The Family Friendly scheme will be working with HMRC to ensure staff can continue to be supported on childcare issues."