When an employee is on maternity leave, they are entitled to Keeping In Touch (KIT) days, but do you know enough about them and how best to use them?
In this blog, we share what you need to know about KIT days and how you can make them work for both you and your employee on maternity leave.
Do I have to give a KIT day?
You can agree with your employee for them to work for up to 10 days during maternity leave, without it affecting their maternity leave and pay. However you are under no obligation to agree to them and the employee is under no obligation to accept any.
If you do agree to a KIT day, these should be paid at the full rate of pay for the day.
KIT days can’t be broken down into hours. For example, even if they only work and get paid for 4 hours, it counts as a day taken.
Reasons you might not be able to offer KIT days
While KIT days are designed to facilitate communication between employees on maternity leave and their workplaces, there may be instances where an employer needs to decline such requests. Here are some reasons why you might need to decline a KIT day request:
- Operational constraints: If your agency is facing intense workloads, tight deadlines, or other operational challenges, granting KIT days might not be feasible without impacting the overall workflow.
- Resource limitations: Limited staffing or resources may make it difficult for you to accommodate additional work, even in the form of KIT days, especially if cash is tight and you are already paying someone to cover the role.
- Employee well-being: If the employee’s well-being or health is a concern, you may decline a KIT day request to prioritise the employee’s rest and recovery during maternity leave.
- Communication plan already in place: If you already have a comprehensive communication plan in place to keep the employee informed about major developments during their absence, additional KIT days might be deemed unnecessary.
The benefits of KIT days
KIT days do what they say on the tin – they are to be used for keeping in touch. It can be incredibly overwhelming to go from being off work for a year after growing a whole human, to suddenly being back at work full time. KIT days can be used to help ease in gently and also beneficial as they can help everyone get used to new child care arrangements such as beginning nursery.
Here’s some good ways to use a KIT day:
- Attending team meetings: Use KIT days for your employee to attend important team meetings, catch up on project updates, and stay informed about any changes or developments in your agency.
- Training and professional development: Take advantage of KIT days to allow your employee to participate in training sessions, workshops, or conferences that can enhance their skills and knowledge. This helps them stay current in their field of expertise.
- Socialising with colleagues: Arranging to meet colleagues for coffee or lunch to maintain social connections will really help your employee keep in touch with what’s going on at work. This can help your employee stay in the loop with office dynamics and build relationships with team members.
- Project updates and planning: Use KIT days to give updates on ongoing projects and get their contribution and insights.
- Networking opportunities: Your employee may wish to attend industry events or networking functions during their KIT days to stay connected with professionals in their industry. This can be valuable for future career opportunities.
- Policy and procedure updates: This helps them stay informed about any changes in company policies or procedures and ensures that they are aware of any updates that may affect their role upon their return.
- Catch up on emails and communication: Use KIT days to let your employee go through emails, respond to important messages, and stay updated on any correspondence. This can help them manage their workload more effectively on their return.
- Handover with the maternity cover: Building in a handover with anyone who has been covering the role will aid a smooth transition on returning to work
It’s crucial for agency owners to communicate openly with employees and carefully consider the circumstances when evaluating requests for KIT days. Clear communication about the reasons for accepting or declining such requests helps maintain a positive relationship between yourselves and the employee on maternity leave. If possible, discuss this prior to the employee going on maternity leave so that expectations can be managed properly.
If you would like any further help with managing requests for KIT days or navigating your obligations when it comes to maternity leave, reach out to our resident HR expert Sarah May by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org