Should I agree what contact I will have with my employer when I go on maternity leave?
Yes, it is best to do so, if possible before or soon after you start your maternity leave. Think about what contact you want and have a discussion with your manager or Human Resources team about:
How much contact you want and how you would like to be contacted, for example by email, access to your employer’s intranet, letter or telephone call.
What the contact should cover, for example news about staff leavers, new staff, training events, social activities.
Whether you want to receive employee news bulletins.
When your annual appraisal should take place, if it is due during your maternity leave.
Taking part in any training.
Keeping in Touch days and your pay for such days.
Other information that you would like to receive.
It is good practice for your employer to make clear:
They will provide as much, or as little, contact and information as you want, unless there is an obligation to inform or consult you.
That you are not under any obligation to work during maternity leave.
The amount you will be paid for all Keeping in Touch days worked.
Can I chose to work/not to work during my maternity leave?
Yes, you can choose whether or not you wish to work during your maternity leave.
If you wish to work, and your employer agrees, you can work for up to 10 'Keeping in Touch' (KIT) days during your maternity leave without affecting your entitlement to statutory maternity pay. You and your employer should agree the type of work you will do prior to the commencement of your maternity leave.
You are, however, not legally required to work, and your employer is not legally required to offer you work during your maternity leave.
If you take shared parental leave (SPL) you (and your partner if they take SPL) can each work a further 20 days during SPL. Further information is available on the GOV.UK website. If you are keen to work as much as possible, and your employer agrees, you can ask for 10 days’ work during your maternity leave period and a further 20 days during SPL.
If I choose to work during maternity leave what type of work can I be asked to do?
This should be agreed between you and your employer. It is best to clarify this beforehand, so that you can be better prepared.
What will I be paid if I work during my maternity leave?
The pay is a matter to be agreed between you and your employer, but usually this would be your normal rate. It is advisable to agree the pay before you do the work, particularly if you have to pay for childcare.
Can my employer deduct the amount I am paid from statutory maternity pay?
Yes, an employer is entitled to offset any contractual pay against SMP, however, your employer must not pay you less than the SMP flat rate for each week. Further information is available on the statutory maternity pay section of NI Direct's website
My employer is pressurising me to work KIT days. What can I do if I do not want to work?
You are not legally required to work and your employer must not pressurise you to work during your maternity leave. You should say that working during your maternity leave is optional and that you do not want to do so. You might want to give a reason, such as the difficulty in getting childcare, but you do not have to.
My employer wants me to return to work earlier than I want to return. What should I do?
You are legally entitled to take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave but you can return to work at any time after the compulsory maternity leave period, provided you give eight weeks’ notice. See the NI Direct website for further information.
Your employer can ask you if you would be willing to return earlier but must not:
- put pressure on you to return earlier than you want, by, for example, repeatedly asking you when you are going to return.
- threaten you with being disadvantaged, if you do not return earlier.
- disadvantage you if you change your mind about when you are going to return – although you must give the appropriate notice.
Should my employer tell me about any job or promotion opportunities while I am on maternity leave?
Your employer is legally required to contact you about any promotion or other job opportunities that come up when you are on maternity leave, explaining what you need to do to apply.
I have applied for a job but I have just given birth and cannot attend the interview, what can I do?
You can ask for the interview to be postponed until you are able to attend. You can ask for a telephone interview, though this is often not so satisfactory.