Work and Contact During Maternity Leave
Being on maternity leave does not mean that an employee has to remain isolated from her place of work. The Employment and Maternity regulations provide that an employee may return to work for up to 10 “Keeping In Touch Days” (“KIT days”) during maternity leave. A “day”, for the purposes of KIT days is any day where an employee returns to work. The amount of time spent working or attending an event is immaterial; thus a 2 hour training event will constitute a day in this context.
There are no legal restrictions on the taking of KIT days during maternity leave save for the normal rule that employees may not work within two weeks of giving birth. This rule extends to four weeks in certain industrial positions.
There is no restriction on what a KIT day may be used for. The employee may wish to return to work for a day to continue her normal duties, to contribute to a project that would benefit from her talents or interest, to attend an important or interesting meeting, to attend training or other events, or to ease her return to work by spending several days shortly before the end of maternity leave resuming her usual duties, catching up with colleagues, communication, and developments in the company.
Payment for KIT days does not form part of an employee’s maternity pay and is generally a matter for agreement between an employee and her employer. Maternity pay remains unaffected when KIT days are taken. Payment for KIT days is determined exclusively by agreement between the employee and her employer, regardless of any maternity pay that is still being received.
The employment and maternity regulations allow both employers and employees to propose a KIT day: However, neither party has the right to insist that such a day is taken. An employee's maternity leave rights dictate that she cannot be penalised for choosing not to take any KIT days. Once a KIT day is arranged, the employee may change her mind without any action being taken against her. Similarly, an employer is under no obligation to grant an employee’s request to return to work for a KIT day. If the employer has any reason to refuse the employee’s request, they may do so without consequence.