Throughout the whole of your maternity leave, your employer should maintain reasonable contact with you. Your employer should also keep you informed of promotion opportunities and other information relating to your job that you would normally have been told about if you were working.
In addition to this reasonable contact, you and your employer can agree between you that you can do up to 10 days' work under your contract of employment without losing your right to maternity pay and without bringing your maternity leave to an end. These are known as Keeping In Touch (KIT) Days.
The type of work that you do on a KIT day is a matter for agreement between you and your employer. You could, for example, use the days to undertake training, attend staff meetings or perhaps become involved in some project work. The work can be undertaken at any time during the maternity leave period except for the two week period immediately after the birth (four weeks if you work in a factory). A KIT day does not need to be a full working day, you can work part of a day, however if you work for part of a day then this will count as one full KIT day.
As working a KIT day is a matter of agreement between you and your employer, your employer cannot make you work during maternity leave if you do not want to. Equally, you do not have a right to work KIT days if your employer does not agree. If your employer offers you the opportunity to work a KIT day and you do not want to, you are entitled to reject the opportunity without suffering any consequences as a result. It is unlawful for your employer to subject you to detriment or dismiss you for not agreeing to work a KIT day or for working, or considering working, a KIT day.
Your employer should pay you for any work done on a KIT day and the rate of pay is a matter of agreement between the parties, however you should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage. Your employer is entitled to offset your SMP against what they pay you for work done on a KIT day.
Our next article in our maternity rights and responsibilities series will explore unfair dismissal during pregnancy or maternity leave.
If you are a new or expectant mother who requires further advice about maternity rights or, if you are an employer who is finding it challenging to navigate the pregnancy and maternity provisions, please contact Fosters on 01603 620508 or via our email contact form and one of our employment law solicitors in Norwich will be in contact very soon.