Will Labour childcare plans punish parents?A proposed scheme by the Labour party to place a quarter of a million two-year-olds in free childcare is not needed and could put more pressure on working parents who are struggling financially, it has been claimed – which may cause problems in absence management.

In a recent speech at the Labour Party Conference, Gordon Brown said he was "proud" to announce that by reforming tax relief they will be able to offer more people the right to childcare facilities while they work.

Commenting on the news, Jeremy Todd, chief executive at Parentline Plus, said: "Parentline Plus welcomes any efforts to extend the availability of childcare for families who would otherwise struggle and enable more parents who want to work to do so."

But he added that parents also need to have access to support to help them make decisions over balancing employment and childcare.

However, Margaret Morrissey of Parentsoutloud.com claimed that many employers and employees were happy with the previous system of childcare.

She added that the scheme was likely to cost parents more and that young mums and dads in employment should be helped "not penalised".