When an employee is on maternity leave, they are away from the workplace for an extended period of time. Keeping in touch can be helpful to both mum and the employer.
The law allows employers to keep in contact with staff during maternity leave. You will want to contact them to discuss their return to work or inform them of any developments in the workplace, upcoming events, training courses, promotion opportunities or job vacancies.
If you do not tell your employees about promotion opportunities, possible job vacancies or redundancies, it could amount to unlawful discrimination.
Employees can also work up to 10 days during maternity leave through Keep in Touch (KIT) days. KIT days can help prepare them for their return to work and ease the transition process.
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:
1.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.
2. 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 coming into work.
3. If you ask them and they refuse, you cannot treat them unfavourably or dismiss them as a result.
4. 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.
5. Even if they do not work for a full day – they just come for a couple of hours, this will still be considered one KIT day.
6. A KIT day does not bring maternity leave to an end.
7. The law does not state whether someone should be paid for working a KIT day – this will be subject to an agreement between you and the employee.
8. If the employee opts in for Shared Parental Leave each parent may take up to 20 Shared Parental Leave in Touch (SPLiT) Days during Shared Parental Leave. 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.