It is quite a thought returning to work after a period of maternity leave and here we look at the things an employee will want to think about before going back to work.
- You must take at least 2 weeks off after your baby is born (compulsory maternity leave), which is increased to 4 weeks if you work in a factory. Other than the compulsory maternity leave period, you can take up to 52 weeks maternity leave.
- If you do not wish to take the full 52 weeks that you are entitled to, you need to give your employer 8 weeks? notice of your return. So, for example, if you wish to return to work after 36 weeks? maternity leave, you must give your employer notice by 28 weeks? of your maternity leave.
- Should you return to work after your Ordinary Maternity Leave period (OML) which is 26 weeks, you are entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions as you had before going on leave. If your employer does not allow you to return to the same position, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal and/or maternity discrimination.
- If you return to work during or at the end of your Additional Maternity Leave period (AML) which is up to 52 weeks, you are entitled to return to exactly the same job. However, if your employer can show that it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to the same job, you are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative job on similar terms and conditions.
- You may not wish to return to work on the same pattern as you were working before you went on maternity leave, and you have the right to make a request for flexible work, in writing, provided you have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks. Your employer must seriously consider how you can do your existing job on a part-time basis and can only refuse for certain business reasons.
- If you do wish to return to your role full time, you may wish to consider using your keeping in touch (KIT) days. These are optional days that can be worked during maternity leave before returning to a full time schedule. Alternatively, annual leave days can be used to do a phased return or part time return.
- Should you decide not to return to work after your maternity leave, you should resign from your position in the normal way, giving the appropriate notice stated within your contract. If you resign during your maternity leave you do not need to go in to work your notice, you can remain on your maternity leave. However, if you resign after the end of your maternity leave you would need to work your notice unless you have agreed to take annual leave or sick leave.
- If your employer paid you extra contractual maternity pay, over and above statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, you only have to pay the contractual amount back if it was agreed in advance or is stated within your employer?s policy.
If you are about to return to work after maternity leave or have returned and are experiencing any issues, please contact a member of our employment team.