Working entitlement

What is working entitlement?

Parents who are working and meet the eligibility criteria can apply for:

  • up to 15 hours of early education over 38 weeks of the year for 2 year olds
  • up to 30 hours of early education over 38 weeks of the year for 3-4 year olds
  • the entitlement can be used flexibly with one or more childcare providers
  • some providers will allow you to ‘stretch’ the hours over 52 weeks, using fewer hours per week

From September 2024:

  • Up to 15 hours for eligible working families in England with a child between 9 and 23 months old.

From September 2025:

  • Up to 30 hours for eligible working families in England with a child from 9 months old up to school age.

Find out more about government help with childcare costs for parents.

When you apply for working entitlement you will receive a unique 11 digit code. Your child can access the funded hours the term after your child’s relevant birthday, or the term after they receive their eligibility code – whichever is later:

Working entitlement

A child must have reached the relevant age (9 months, 2 years or 3 years) and received an eligible code by:

To access a funded place in:

What to do when you have your code

31 December

Spring term

Contact your chosen childcare provider to see when you can start accessing your entitlement. They will need to check your code and child’s date of birth before offering you a place.

31 March

Summer term

31 August

Autumn term

Accessing your funded hours

You can get 15 to 30 hours of funded childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year - during school term time.

You may be able to get funded childcare for more weeks if you use fewer than the 15 to 30 hours per week. Check with your childcare provider to find out if this is something they offer – it’s called stretched funding.

Some childcare providers will be able to offer the full 30 hours at their setting, and others may only be able to offer you 15 hours. You can split your entitlement over 2 childcare providers, but you cannot have more than your entitlement.

You may be able to buy additional hours from your childcare provider. Speak to your childcare provider to see what they offer.

What is not covered?

The funded childcare offer is not intended to cover the costs of:

  • meals
  • other consumables - such as nappies or sun cream
  • additional hours
  • additional activities - such as trips

Providers may charge a fee for these additions.

If you choose to pay for these it is an arrangement between you and the childcare provider. However, you must not be required to pay any fee as a condition of taking up your funded place.

Providers who choose to offer the free entitlements, are responsible for setting their own policy on providing parents with options for alternatives to additional charges. This includes allowing parents to supply their own meals or nappies, or waiving or reducing the cost of meals and snacks.

Apply for working entitlement

You need to apply to HMRC and set up a childcare account.

You will be able to apply for the working entitlement and also Tax-Free childcare at the same time. Tax Free childcare helps towards your childcare costs where you pay.

It usually takes 20 minutes to apply. You may find out if you’re eligible straight away, but it can take longer – make sure you apply in plenty of time to get your code.

You must reconfirm your eligibility every 3 months to remain eligible for 30 hours. If you reconfirm late you may lose 30 hours for the next term. Check your childcare service account for reconfirmation dates.

Apply now

Page last updated: 13 February 2024

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