A common grumble we hear is when someone doesn’t want any contact from their employer during maternity leave.
As human beings we can be confused that someone isn’t talking to us about their intentions. On a human level its perfectly reasonable to be affected by this and to feel saddened. But from an employment perspective the employee is not required to maintain any contact with their employer during maternity leave.
Let’s just summarise the employee’s and employer’s rights:
- All women regardless of service have the right to 52 week’s maternity leave.
- Where they meet the qualifying service requirements, the woman is paid Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 39 weeks.
- If the woman’s contract of employment states she has to give 12 weeks’ notice to end her employment she will need to let you know 12 weeks before her maternity leave period ends.
- Should the woman wants to return any earlier than after 52 weeks, she must give her employer 8 weeks’ notice in writing. If insufficient notice is given the employer can delay the woman’s return.
- Keeping in Touch (KIT) Days are voluntary for both parties. An employee can ask for them and the employer can decline. Vice versa the employer can request the woman attend a KIT day and the employee can decline.
- If the woman doesn’t return to work after 52 weeks and hasn’t provided an explanation, her absence can be treated as unauthorised.
- An employer can make reasonable contact with their employee. For example to send newsletters, keep up to date on business developments, enquire about mother and baby etc. But can’t be seen to harass the woman into making a decision on her return. The problem is that one person’s friendly contact is another person’s harassment.
So how much notice does a Nursery Manager on maternity leave have to give?
Well to return after their 52 week maternity leave – no notice. Their 52 weeks could end on the Friday, and they could turn up for work on the Monday morning without having any contact for a year.
If they want to end their employment – it’s the notice period as per their contract of employment. It is not uncommon for Nursery Manager’s to be asked to give 12 weeks’ notice.
What if they want to request flexible working?
Women on maternity leave are advised to make their requests for flexible working early enough for the employer to be able to predict their future needs. That’s neither too early or too late. Never allow an employee to present you with a ‘fait a complet’. You must always follow the Flexible Working Request Regulations. And give all requests that are eligible (i.e. the employee has the service and hasn’t made another request in 12 months) due consideration. Do ask us to assist you if you need any help.
What can be done to support a woman returner?
An environment where the woman feels she can approach the employer to discuss what she is thinking helps a great deal. Also encourage your women on maternity leave to keep in touch. Whether it’s through the odd call to see how they are doing or suggesting they pop in with the baby. We would say from our experience that women who are kept in the loop return to work more often than women who are not contacted for 12 months and feel they don’t know their employer anymore. Refresher training before they return can really boost confidence as can a Supervision Meeting with their Line Manager.
If you need any assistance in managing any aspect of maternity please do not hesitate to get in touch, 01527 909436.