Returning to work from maternity leave can be difficult, reintegrating into a company after over a year's absence has its challenges for both you and your employee. It’s estimated that one in ten women are concerned about the availability of their role following their return from maternity leave, and around a third worry about the attitude of their boss and colleagues. Therefore, ensuring that you maintain a steady line of communication with your employee is essential in supporting their return to work. This can be as simple as having a pre-arranged method of keeping in touch, or a team social to reintroduce your employee on leave to new team members.
The basics of Keeping in Touch Days
Employees can work up to 10 days during their pregnancy or adoption leave, these are called Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. KIT days are intended to help employees keep in contact with their workplace and allow them to do some work while still being on maternity leave. It offers a great way to enable your returning parental employee to reintegrate back into the workplace at a slower, more staggered pace than simply returning and jumping straight back into work.
KIT days are optional, which both you and your employee will agree on together, you will also need to agree on the type of work and pay your employee will get before they come into work. Once your employee has used their 10 KIT days, for any week or part week they work during their leave period, they lose a week of their maternity or adoption pay. Leave policies allow fo some employees to work up to 20 days during their shared parental leave. These are called ‘Shared Parental Leave in Touch Days’ (SPLIT days), which are in addition to the 10 KIT days already available to employees on maternity or adoption leave.
Formulate a plan before your employee goes on leave
KIT days can be worked any time during your employees normal or additional maternity leave, except for during the two weeks of compulsory maternity leave immediately after the birth of their child.
Any work that’s done can count towards a KIT or SPLIT day, that also includes training, conferences and meetings. Even if your employee only works for a couple of hours a day, it will still count as a whole SIT/SPLIT day, so it’s important to agree in advance with your employee what work they will do. These days can be a beneficial way for your employee to keep up to date with any changes in the workplace while they have been on leave and help them gradually settle back into work at the end of their leave.
Placing employee wellbeing at the forefront of your discussions ensures that your plan is beneficial to both you and your employee. This includes being open and flexible when dealing with their requests, listening to your employees needs and trying to find a way to incorporate them into their reintegration.
Final thoughts from Kami
Whatever way parents want to work, it’s important for businesses to reach out to their working parents and ask them exactly what they need from them. Be open to listening to and understanding your working parents and find out how you can best support them. Each parent has distinct needs, small adjustments can have a significant impact on parents and signals to them that their company values and supports them, making them more motivated to give their best to the business.