Whilst on maternity leave, an employer is legally required to keep the employee up to date on any workplace issues which may affect them, such as promotion opportunities. A report published in 2016 found that 26% of mothers felt they had too little contact with their employer during maternity leave. This can lead to the mother feeling isolated and potentially unsure about her return to work. KIT days can be an effective way of keeping an employee involved in the workplace during her maternity leave.
What is a KIT day?
KIT stands for Keeping In Touch. During maternity leave, an employee is able to work for their employer for up to ten days without bringing their maternity leave to an end and losing out on maternity pay. If you use a KIT day, you cannot then claim that day back as leave and add it on to the end of your maternity leave.
For the purposes of a KIT day, a day does not necessarily have to be a full day. Any work carried out by the employee on a particular day will be considered a KIT day and will use up one of the ten days, even if the employee has only completed a number of hours work.
When can KIT days be used?
An employee cannot work a KIT day for two weeks from the date of the birth which is the compulsory period an employee must have away from work after giving birth.
After that two week period, a KIT day can be worked whenever is agreed between the employee and employer, up until the end of the employee’s maternity leave. It can be taken as single days or a block of days.
Ten days is the maximum amount of days an employee can take. Just because one KIT day has been agreed, it does not mean the employee must complete nine more. Provided the employee and employer agree, an employee can work for up to ten days.
What can I do on my KIT days?
A KIT day can be an opportunity for the employee to ease back into the workplace. There is no defined work that the employee must, or must not do on these days, provided the work is in accordance with the employee’s contract. It could be that there is a particular project due that the employee could assist with, or a meeting scheduled that they would benefit from attending. In some circumstances, there could be some training the employee needs to undertake, doing this would constitute a KIT day.
An employer and employee should have reasonable contact throughout the employee’s maternity leave, whether that be by telephone, email or a face to face meeting. The contact an employer has when updating an employee on any internal issues, having general conversations or even arranging the employees return to work, does not constitute a KIT day.
Do I have to work whilst on maternity leave?
No. A KIT day is not a legal entitlement or requirement. Neither the employee nor the employer can insist on KIT days being worked.
If an employee suffers a detriment for refusing to work whilst on maternity leave, that employee may be entitled to bring an unlawful detriment claim. If the employee is dismissed for not working KIT days, she may have a claim for an automatic unfair dismissal.
A KIT day can be a useful way of keeping an employee involved in the workplace whilst on maternity leave. However, it is not appropriate in all situations and in some workplaces, KIT days might genuinely not be needed.
How can Lincs Law help you?
If you have any concerns about KIT days and would like any further guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01522 440512 for an initial free no obligation telephone conversation. Alternatively, for more information about pregnancy and maternity rights, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/workplace-problems/pregnancy-and-maternity-discrimination/
Managing Director, Specialist Employment Solicitor