Rights to work after maternity leave

It can be difficult to know what companies can do to accommodate employees who have taken maternity leave and their vacation entitlement. Before establishing a family, this booklet covers your responsibilities as a company and how employees should communicate.

When she started her maternity leave, my employee claimed that she would return to work after her maternity pay ran out. They’ve just told me they’d be back to work in three months.

It is a legal right to take a full year of maternity leave (52 weeks), with 39 weeks paid as maternity benefit or allowance, depending on National Insurance contributions.

An employee must notify their employer 15 weeks before the due date of the pregnancy to be eligible for either of these benefits. The employee should also specify the expected week of labor and the start date of their maternity leave. If the employee wishes, maternity leave can begin 11 weeks before the expected week of labor. They could also work till their real birth date.

When an employer learns of the pregnancy, they should write to the employee within 28 days to confirm the date of their return to work. Although many people return when their maternity leave is through, it’s usually better to plan on an employee being gone for a year.

Unless all parties agree, an employee must give eight weeks’ notice if they want to change this date.

My employee wants to take yearly leave at the end of her maternity leave. Is it required that I agree?

Your vacation entitlement continues to accrue while you are on maternity leave. However, employees cannot take both annual and maternity leave at the same time.

To ensure that everyone is on the same page, the employer and employee should discuss holiday entitlement as soon as feasible. It may be decided that leave will be taken before or after maternity leave to avoid disruption.

Another option is for an employee to work some of their regular working days after returning to work and then take the remainder of the time off as vacation until their vacation time is used up. This should be discussed in advance and is best accomplished through mutual agreement between the employer and the employee.

My employee has mentioned ‘keeping in touch days. What are they, exactly?

A: An employee can work for up to 10 days without ending her maternity leave if both the employee and the firm agreed. It could be used to ease the person back into work, such as for a training day or attending conference meetings. It’s important to remember that neither party may make the other use the service, and both parties must agree on the details and payment arrangements.

My employee will return to work in three weeks. I’d want to see them do something different.

A: An employee who has been on maternity leave for less than 26 weeks has the right to return to work and should be entitled to any improved terms and conditions implemented while on leave.

Employees who have taken more than 26 weeks of maternity leave (Additional Maternity Leave) are entitled to return to the same job on the same terms unless severe organizational changes make this impossible. They have the right to seek out other employment that is both suitable and appropriate in the circumstances. A suitable job must have terms that are at least as excellent as their previous ones. All aspects of pay, perks, vacation time, and seniority must be comparable to their previous position.

Michele Pitney is a senior adviser and collective conciliator at Acas, where she has held several positions for nearly ten years.

She is an experienced trainer who has designed and delivered courses on a wide range of employment relations and employment law topics for various private, public, and non-profit organizations.

Michele aided in developing Acas’ training and online information on the effects of menopause at work.

Michele is a member of the CIPD, the ITOL, and the Manchester Industrial Relations Society.