This article’s about the payment of child maintenance, something I did for 20 years. To me it is the very first priority of a paying parent as it is the lifeline for the carer and the child. You can read about the various ways that payment can be made here.
Payments can be made (usually where other methods have failed) directly from pay. At this point such payments enter into the world of payroll. I have heard these payments referred to as an employee benefit, they are not. They are deductions from pay about which there is no discretion, they are not a benefit but a right to those who receive them.
I came across this post on linked in and it made me think- think a lot.
Please take a moment to watch the Parliamentary debate from last Thursday, 21st January, regarding the operation of
the Child Maintenance Service during Covid-19 and important plight of many families in such unprecedented times. For many of us the global pandemic, lockdown, homeworking and home schooling has been one cog in a wheel of complexity. It is 45 minutes well spent, drawing on issues that affect our own industry more broadly, as well as the responsibility of employers. Whilst the debate starts at 15.53 and commences with scene setting of the issues, in particular I would draw your attention to Rt Hon Caroline Nokes at 16.05 and Guy Opperman at 16.49 in the footage (link attached) Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
Clearly Caroline Nokes’ is aware of certain live cases where payments are being frustrated by one parent seeking variation orders, by employers not co-operating and by the non-disclosure of the paying parent’s financial resources. I quote a statement from Caroline Nokes also quoted by the Pension Minister.
“There is a special place in hell for parents who go out of their way to hide income”
We should be particularly disgusted with such goings-on at this point in time, when the Child Maintenance Service is so under pressure. Paying parents and parents who care both have responsibility for the child or children. But so do employers – employers have a moral and legal role to enforce payments out of pay.
Not all domestic abuse is physical, some is financial. Deductions from earnings orders need to be honored by employers and should not have to be chased up by parents who are left without maintenance payments. Payroll must not be allowed to be bullied in taking an employee’s side, no matter how senior the employee.
It is good to see Government stepping up powers to protect parent’s who care and those they care for as nobody should exploit this crisis to get out of making payments. It is good to see Guy Opperman report on the DWP’s widening the scope of the CMS’ investigatory powers to include all sources of income. Compliance with “collect and pay” is – according to Guy Opperman is only 74% – and shows a shockingly high level of non-compliance.
I very much hope that no company involved with the payment of pensions is found to have fallen short in its duty to make direct payments where an order is in force.
I will let the final word on this fall to Jay Kenny, a noble man who is consistently on the side of doing the right thing.