When an employee is on maternity leave, they are away from the workplace for an extended period of time and it is useful to keep in touch.
The law allows employers to make reasonable contact during maternity leave. After all, you may want to contact the employee to discuss their return to work or inform them of any developments in the workplace, upcoming events, training courses, promotion opportunities or job vacancies.
In fact, it is likely that if you do not tell your employees about promotion opportunities, possible job vacancies or redundancies, it could actually amount to unlawful discrimination.
An employee can also work up to 10 days during maternity leave through Keep in Touch (KIT) days. KIT days can help prepare the employee for their return to work and ease the transition process and you can also gain their valuable input on ongoing projects.
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However, employers should not confuse ‘reasonable contact’ with ‘Keep in Touch’ days as they are two separate things.
Here are eight things all employers need to know about KIT days:
- They can be taken at any time, but you must respect Compulsory Maternity Leave. By law, a birth mother must take a minimum of two weeks’ after having a baby. This is extended to four weeks for factory employees.
- KIT days are not compulsory – they can only be taken if both you and the employee agree. This means that you cannot force an employee to work during their maternity leave and the employee cannot insist on doing so.
- If you ask them and they refuse, you cannot treat them unfavourably or dismiss them as a result.
- Before they come into work, you should agree what type of work they will do, for example, they may just attend a team meeting, undertake some training or help with a project.
- Even if they do not work for a full day, for example, they just come for a couple of hours, this will still be considered one KIT day.
- A KIT day does not bring maternity leave to an end.
- The law does not lay down provisions for payment for working a KIT day – this will be subject to an agreement between you and the employee.
- If the employee opts in for Shared Parental Leave each parent may take up to 20 Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLiT) Days during SPL. This is the equivalent of Keep in Touch days for maternity leave and is in addition to the mother’s right to 10 KIT days.