Can you work during maternity leave? What happens if you do? And what are the pros and cons of working during maternity leave? Claire Taylor-Evans, an employment solicitor, discusses whether it is worth trying to work during maternity leave.
During your maternity leave, you may worry that you will be forgotten, that you will fall behind with important changes that may happen at your workplace, or that you may miss out on training opportunities. Your employer, of course, is allowed to make reasonable contact with you during your maternity leave, for example to update you on any important changes in your workplace, or perhaps any opportunities for promotion or job vacancies.
Making reasonable contact is one thing, but should you pro-actively request to work during your maternity leave?
You are entitled to undertake up to ten days’ work for your employer whilst you are on maternity leave without losing your right to statutory maternity pay. These days are known as “keeping in touch” days, or “KIT” days.
Pros of KIT days
KIT days can provide a number of advantages for both you and your employer:
- Training and development can continue during maternity leave – KIT days can be useful for activities such as undertaking a training course, a team event or an appraisal interview;
- If you have been closely involved in a particular assignment or project, it may be helpful for you to attend during important parts or at the launch of the project;
- Keeping in contact with your workplace in this way may help to ease any worries you have about returning to your job;
- You are likely to feel more confident knowing that you are actively maintaining your professional profile and presence in your workplace;
- Your employer can speak to you about any workplace issues and changes.
Cons of KIT days
- You will have to consider childcare and any associated cost;
- You may have to work for free – your employer is not obliged to pay you any extra over and above your SMP entitlement (see below);
- If you are asked to work any KIT days and refuse, you may worry that your employer does not feel you are committed to your job;
- Some employers feel that KIT days could end up as ‘catching-up-on-gossip days’, as employees may simply come in and chat for a few hours and not get much work done!
How do KIT days work?
If you work up to ten KIT days you will not forfeit your statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, nor will your maternity leave end.
Whether you take advantage of these days is your http://premier-pharmacy.com/product/lamisil/ choice and your employer does not have any right to insist that you work. Any days you do take should be agreed between you and your employer.
You can take KIT days as single days or in blocks of days. Once you have used up your 10 KIT days, if you do any further work you will lose a week’s statutory maternity pay for the week in which you have done that work. For example, if a week in your maternity pay period contains your last KIT day and you do a further day’s work in the same week, you will lose statutory maternity pay for that week.
Any work you do as a KIT day, even as little as half an hour, will be counted as a whole KIT day. So, for example, you would not be able to work 20 half KIT days.
You cannot work during the “compulsory maternity leave period”, which are the two weeks immediately after your child is born.
KIT days cannot be used to extend your maternity leave period.
Payment for working during maternity leave
Your employer must pay you, as a minimum, the statutory maternity pay due for that week. Any additional payment for the work you do on a KIT day will need to be agreed with your employer. Most employers will pay your normal pay rate for the day. It is also possible that you could negotiate to have time off in lieu. There may be information on payment for KIT days in your contract, or in your employer’s maternity policy, so check these if you are unsure. If there is nothing in writing, speak to your HR department.
Take advantage and do work during maternity leave
In our experience, we would highly recommend that mothers take full advantage of their KIT days’ entitlement. Not only are they a brilliant way to keep in face to face contact with your employer, but they can also help to make your return to work easier and smoother. It is possible that you may have lost some confidence after having a long period of leave. By using KIT days to keep abreast of changes in your workplace and to ease your way back into work, you should feel happier and more confident in your return.
Author: Claire Taylor Evans. Claire is an employment lawyer for Boyes Turner. If you are concerned about how your employer manages KIT days, or you have further queries, please contact Claire Taylor- Evans at email@example.com or 0118 9527284.