Keeping in Touch Days
When a mother-to-be takes maternity leave, she can be absent from the workplace for a considerable period of time, during which there may be many changes and developments. Providing she intends to return to work, it would be a good idea for her to keep abreast of these developments but receipt of Statutory Maternity Pay would preclude her doing any work for her employer. However, employment and social security legislation allow employees to take what are known as Keeping in Touch (KIT) days, during which they may work for their employer without causing their maternity leave to come to an end. Up to ten KIT days are permitted to be taken without affecting maternity leave.
Note that Keeping in Touch days also apply to those taking adoption or paternity leave and the rest of the article should be read with this in mind. The use of the female pronoun should be taken as including the male where relevant.
Payment for KIT Days.
Taking KIT days means that an employee is doing work under their contract of employment and they are therefore entitled to be paid for the work they do on those days. The rate of pay the employee will receive is a matter to be agreed with the employer, although statutory obligations such as the National Minimum Wage and equal pay requirements still need to be taken into consideration.
If the employee is receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, the employer may count the amount for the week in which the work is done towards the contractual pay agreed by the two parties.
However, it will always be possible to agree an amount of contractual remuneration over and above the weekly Statutory Maternity Pay rate to reflect the work the employee has done and this is something which the employer will need to agree with the employee before any work is done.
The employer should set out in clear terms how much the employee will be paid for working a keeping-in-touch day and whether her statutory maternity pay will be paid in addition to payment for the keeping-in-touch day or offset against it.
Exceeding the KIT allowance.
If the employee exceeds her ten-day KIT allowance, she will lose a week’s Statutory Maternity Pay in the maternity pay period in which she was working. It’s important therefore that employers keep a careful note of the number of KIT days worked so that they can make the assessments needed to accurately calculate Statutory Maternity Pay.
The full ten-day entitlement applies even if the employee returns to work early. The ten days are a part of the statutory leave period, not in addition to it.
Making arrangements for KIT days
KIT days are optional rather than mandatory and both the employee and employer need to agree to them, as well as the nature of the work that will be carried out. This is probably best done through a pre-maternity-leave interview, where subjects such as the amount and methods of contact that an employee would like during her maternity leave in order to arrange KIT days, and practical arrangements that the employee will need to enable her to work when she attends the workplace.
The nature of the work performed must be the type of work the employee normally performs under the employment contract, but it may include training or any other activity that is undertaken to enable the employee to keep in touch with the workplace.
Things to remember
The employee can take all her KIT days as a block before the birth, or at the end of the leave period. There is no requirement in the legislation and it is for the employee and employer to agree this.
KIT days may not be taken during the first two weeks after the birth, or four weeks if the employee works within a factory environment.
Even if the employee works for only an hour on the day, it is counted as a whole KIT day for administrative purposes. However, the law does allow “reasonable contact” between employer and employee if it is to discuss matters relating to maternity leave. This could lead to the employer and employee meeting to talk about return to work arrangements without it being classified as work and therefore eating into the KIT allowance.
The employer must ensure that in all matters of pay, they comply with National Minimum
Employees are protected from detrimental treatment or from dismissal on the grounds that they undertook, considered undertaking, or refused to undertake work during the statutory maternity/adoption leave period.