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Employee Rights when on Maternity Leave

Information in this section explains employee rights while on maternity leave from work. Check your employment rights when you take time off and then return to your job.

ENTITLEMENTS ON LEAVE: This guidance is for all employees who take leave from work.

Your employer must protect your employment rights if you take maternity, paternity, adoption, or parental leave.

UK employment and pregnancy laws protect employee entitlements to:

What happens if your employer makes you redundant during Statutory Maternity Leave? UK employment laws grant you the same rights as though you were at work with your colleagues.

In most cases you should get your normal employment rights and work benefits. Employees who have a baby, or adopt a child, after the 5th April 2015 may also take Shared Parental Leave.

Your employment rights on leave can also include access to claim certain benefits. These terms and conditions are often included in your contract of employment.

The most common benefits you get to keep would be a mobile phone or the company car that you usually use. But, your employer can suspend it if the perk is only provided to you for business use.

Because it usually excludes your regular wage, some choose to work in their leave period. What if you do not get your normal pay? You may qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity Pay. You can also work and get paid for up to 10 days during the leave.

Maternity Leave Keep in Touch Days (KIT)

Employees cannot work during the two week compulsory maternity leave. This is the period of the first 14 days after childbirth. But, you can choose to work during maternity, adoption, or additional paternity leave. You can go back to work for up to 10 days of so-called ‘keeping in touch days‘ or KIT.

Keeping in touch with your employer is optional. But it can be helpful for team events or training. Employees and employers should agree any terms of ‘keep in touch days’ or KIT.

This includes the type of work carried out and the amount of pay. Keeping in touch employment does not affect employee rights to benefits and allowances.

Your employer can make ‘reasonable’ contact with you during the Statutory Maternity Leave. This could include updating you on any changes at work or offering you a new job opportunity. It often makes it easier for you to return to the workplace after your leave has finished.

Protection of Employment Terms and Conditions

As a rule, all employees and their employment terms and conditions get protected. You get the same entitlement to pay rises and job improvements while you take leave from work.

Your pension contributions usually stop while you take unpaid leave. The exception could be if your contract states otherwise. You will continue to build up your holiday entitlement as normal. You can also take holidays you have accrued (built up) before or after the period of leave.

Returning to Work after Maternity Leave

As a rule, all employees have the right to return to their job after taking:

  • Paternity Leave.
  • Only 26 weeks of Maternity or Adoption Leave.
  • Only 26 weeks of Shared Parental Leave (between both parents).
  • Four (4) weeks or less of unpaid Parental Leave.

Employees taking Extra Leave

In these cases, an employee has the right to return to their regular job (or similar). A similar job applies if it is impossible to give them back their old role in the company.

The law states ‘similar’ to mean that the job has the same terms and conditions (or better). Employers can assume a resignation on an ‘unreasonable’ refusal to take a similar job.

Redundancy While on Maternity Leave

Your redundancy rights are no different while you take maternity leave. Your entitlements also remain unchanged during adoption leave, and paternity or parental leave.

What if you get selected for redundancy during your leave period? In this case, you would have the right to select any suitable alternative position.

Your employer must clearly justify why they are making you redundant. An example could be if the section you work at closes within the business. Justification may occur if everyone else in that section also receives their redundancies. Other complex rules apply for employers when making staff redundant from work.

Maternity Leave Issues

What should you do if you have maternity leave issues or problems? First, talk to your employer if you have a problem about your leave from work.

Try discussing the issue with your employer or human resources department. In most cases it is a simple misunderstanding. You can make a complaint using the grievance procedure at work if you cannot find an informal solution.

What should you do if you think your employer is not acting fairly towards you? There are steps to follow if you feel your employer is not recognising your rights when you return to work.

You should determine whether it is discriminatory treatment. Do you have a trade union representative who can help? You can also get help by contacting Acas (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).

Maternity Leave Employment Rights in the United Kingdom