Planning maternity leave
Before maternity leave starts, you should agree with your employee the best way to keep in touch about important changes or news at work.
This includes arranging how you'll keep in touch. Try and agree a way of keeping in touch that's comfortable for your employee, for example you can ask them if they prefer email to phone calls.
By law you must tell them about:
- promotion or other job opportunities
- any reorganisation that could affect their job
You could also tell them about:
- social events
- colleagues who are leaving or joining
- arrangements for their return to work
It's a good idea to:
- let the employee decide how much contact they want, unless the contact is about things you must tell them about
- remind them they do not have to do any work during maternity leave
Keeping in touch days
You and the employee could have up to 10 optional keeping in touch (KIT) days during their maternity leave, if both sides agree.
Keeping in touch days help employees stay in contact with their organisation, for example by joining training sessions or team meetings.
Before arranging keeping in touch days, you should arrange with your employee the work they'll do on these days.
If an employee works part of a keeping in touch day, it still counts as a full day.
If they work more than 10 keeping in touch days, their maternity leave and pay automatically end.
If they're taking shared parental leave
As well as taking up to 10 keeping in touch days, an employee taking shared parental leave might be able to take 20 extra days for keeping in touch.
These extra days are known as shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days.
Pay and keeping in touch days
You should agree pay for keeping in touch days in advance. The easiest option is to pay normal pay for the day.
You can sometimes pay less than normal pay depending on what someone is doing on their keeping in touch day. But paying someone less than they normally would get for doing the same thing could be discrimination.
You must not pay less than National Minimum Wage.
If they become pregnant on maternity leave
If the employee becomes pregnant while on maternity leave, they're entitled to another 52 weeks' maternity leave.
By law, the employee cannot start their next maternity leave until the 11th week before their baby is due. So if their first maternity leave ends before that point, they'll need to either:
- return to work until at least the 11th week before the baby is due
- see if they can stay off work by taking another type of leave (such as holiday leave) – it's up to you to decide if they can do this and they must give you the correct notice
Employing someone else to do the work
You can choose to employ someone else to do the work ('maternity cover') while the employee is on maternity leave.
The maternity cover can be an existing or new employee.
Usually these roles are temporary with a fixed end date.
You must tell the person doing maternity cover what happens when their role ends. For example:
- if they're an existing employee, whether they'll go back to their previous role or to a different one
- if they're a new employee, whether their job will come to an end – if so you must end their contract fairly