Guide

Make child maintenance deductions from an employee's pay

Employers' legal obligations for deducting child maintenance

As an employer, you have a number of legal obligations relating to deducting child maintenance from an employee's pay. By law, you must:

  • provide information to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) when requested
  • send payments to CMS as soon as possible, but no later than the 19th day of the month following the month in which you took it
  • let CMS know immediately if there are any problems with taking payments from a paying parent's earnings
  • make regular payments - if you don't send payments to CMS and don't tell them why, they can take you to court
  • tell CMS in writing within 10 days of an employee leaving your business
  • tell CMS in writing within 10 days if they ask you to set up a Deduction from Earnings Order (DEO) for someone who does not work for you

Read more about DEOs.

Providing information to CMS

CMS may ask you to help collect information it needs about your employee. A prompt reply from you allows child maintenance to be calculated more quickly. Delays in sending this information can cause hardship for the children the money is intended for and can build up a debt for the paying parent.

You may be asked for the following information about your employee:

  • confirmation of identity
  • address or other contact details
  • wages or salary details
  • bank account details

It is an offence to fail to provide information when it is required. It is also an offence to:

  • make a false statement or representation
  • knowingly provide, or allow to be provided, false information

If a person is found guilty of these offences they will be subject, on conviction, to a fine of up to £1,000.

The role of CMS inspectors

CMS sometimes sends inspectors to interview non-resident parents at work. If this happens, the inspector may ask to speak to any adult on your business premises and you should let them. It is a criminal offence for any person to:

  • make it difficult for the inspectors to do their jobs
  • intentionally delay or obstruct an inspector exercising their powers
  • without reasonable excuse, to refuse or neglect to answer any questions or supply any information or to produce any document when it is required

If a person is found guilty of these offences they will be subject, on conviction, to a fine of up to £1,000.

Giving CMS other information it needs

As well as the information above that you are legally required to provide, you should also notify CMS if an employee who is paying through a DEO has their hours changed.

This information helps CMS keep track of people who pay child maintenance and helps make sure they pay the right amount.

If an employee - who has been paying child maintenance through a DEO - leaves your business, or if your business ceases trading, you must inform CMS in writing within 10 days. You should send the information to the CMS centre that sent you the DEO.

How to contact CMS

For help or more information:

  • call CMS employer helpline on 0345 713 2033
  • if you have speech or hearing difficulties, a textphone service is available on 0345 713 9704
  • email CMS at ni.employerhelpline@cms.gsi.gov.uk - this is not a secure email address so do not enter personal information

The CMS employer helpline is open Monday to Friday, from 08:00 to 17:00.

nidirect guidance on contacting 08 and 03 telephone numbers.