Maternity Leave Questions


Does anyone know anymore about the conditions of additional maternity leave. I know it means that you can go back to your old job if it is reasonably practical, but what qualifies as 'reasonably practical'? For example if they have to hire someone to cover you and think they are doing well job well enough...would they be allowed to refuse you returning to your old job? 

The 8 weeks notice to return, do they have to accept a revised return date? If you said you were taking a year then decided to only take six months, and gave the 8 weeks notice, would they have to let you back early or can they refuse?

Finally, does anyone have any experience of returning early and the difference that makes to your pay. For example, my employer basically offers full pay for 6 months, half pay for 9 months, and statutory if you take a year. Obviously if you said at the beginning you were taking a year you would just get statutory pay, but if you then actually only took 6 months off do you think you're employer would have to sort out a lump sum payment or something? 

Many Thanks


  • As far as I'm aware they have to give you back your existing job or a similar one with same money. Also I think there is a timeframe so for exams after 6months it has to be your exact job, after a year it's a similar one. If you give them the correct notice they have to take you back at any date you want, they are auppoaed to assume you're taking a year unless you told them otherwise. I don't think payment usually works like that...the above situation would mean for first 6months
  •'d get full pay then it'd decrease in stages. I've never heard of someone offering a set amount per month based on how long you're off because it'd cause huge problems as you've set out. The direct gov website has lots of useful info.
  • Thanks. I know its same job after 6 months and they could offer a different after that I'm just trying to establish what reasons they could use to do this and get away with it. Ive worked hard to get where I am and if taking longer meant I was putting returning to that position at high risk it might be a deal breaker for me. I cant see my current position being 'redundant' after my mat leave tho, so if its only in that circumstance where legally they could get away with not letting me return to it then I wouldn't be overly concerned.

    RE mat pay, my company does offer mat pay like that. Everyone that's been off so far has known how long they were taking before they left and stuck too it, so it's not caused any problems so far for them! It's a small company really and I know that if I asked at work I would be told one thing by one person and another by another. That's why I'm trying to see if anyone else has come across it hand what happened for them. If someone did say they'd take only 6 months then changed it to 9 they would be expected to pay back the full pay to the company.... So based on that they should really fill the gaps pay wise for someone who intended to take 9 months but then only took 6, in my opinion anyway! 

  • PS the payment options are full pay for 6 months then you have to return. If you take 9 months its half pay for the full 9 months then you have to return. With a year it's statutory only for the entire year. Just incase I wasn't clear in the first post. It's basically trying to incentivise you to return to work sooner rather than later!

  • An incentive to return to work early? Family friend then?! Lol! Sorry not helpful pep!! I was going to ask if you had an HR person you could speak to confidentially if the conditions are specific to your org then they might be the only ones to give you the answers you want. I know that where I work I only have to repay mat pay monies If I don't return to work for a minimum of 3 months. However the pay is the same for all regardless of how long you take off. I work for a local authority so its very structured with no dubiety!

  • Pep, would it work for you the other way? To say 6 but extend if you wish and then repay the difference, so you're more in control so to speak.

  • Sweetpea no it's the same for everyone in my company, no special clauses for me :) I've spoken to HR before about the 6 months full pay and if you return to work after that but cut your hours would you have to pay any of the full pay back and she said no. Then my boss was talking about someone else who is on mat leave and we said they might cut their hours and he said they'd have to pay the money back. See what I mean about one saying one thing and another saying another? I think I'm now avoiding raising any of it with them incase it points out any flaws which legally I could argue with upon my return... But if I point them out now they might iron it all out... Does that make sense? Bad employee ;) I think I'll have to just try and get as many answers as I can tho. At the end of the day its my intention to return to my old job and stay in the company so I don't really want to end up in a position where I'm 'fighting' them because of XYZ anyway.

    Counter possibly, but I'd be nervous about doing that although I know I'm fully entitled to. I think I'd get grief for it. I'm in a management position and I really think the amount of time I intend to take will really dictate whether they cover me or not. Also one of the reasons I'm put off taking 6 months at full pay is because they're still paying you and think they can contact you etc... So I'd just be putting myself forward for that! Worth considering though. Thinking about it someone else said they were taking 9 then never returned - so they would of been in a position where they had to pay back some of the money (clause is you have to return for at least 6 months if you take 6 or 9 months and get more than stat pay).

  • Are companies allowed to penalise you for taking the most time off? You are legally entitled to take it and they have no legal obligation to give any thing more than statutory, but to only pay the extra if you're returning early is surely discrimination?

  • Jellytot, they must be able to as they had solicitors etc involved when putting together the plan. It was only implemented about 1-2 years ago, before that they didn't have anything in place. There is an option for returning earlier than 6 months too where you get a 'bonus' for doing so... but I'm not even considering that one as going back after 3 months is far too early for me.

  • That was my thoughts jellytot, hence me sayimg its really unusual. On the statutory for a year thing do they top up the last 3 months of the year then or do they just mean it follows the statutory pattern ie the 135 per week for 9 months then nothing for the last 3?

  • Autumn it follows the statutory - so stat mat pay for 39 weeks then nothing for the last 13 weeks (or whatever it is!). They don't top up anything at all.

    Oh and for 9 months its not as straight forward as half pay. Its a bit more complicated (and I have to keep reminding myself exactly what is what!).

    In full its basically this;

    6 months - full pay for 3 months, half pay for 3 months, once you've returned and worked for 6 months you have the 3 months at half pay topped up to full pay.

    9 months - full pay for 3 months, then statutory pay

    12 months - statutory from the beginning and through-out

  • They really do weight it don't they? It's great to get more than the stat min but I can see it's a tough choice!

  • It's tough because I just don't know how I'm going to take to it. For example a year sounds wonderful, but I might be dying to get back by 6 months I just have no idea! If I can say I'm taking a year then go back early if I decide to and still get the same benefits that I would have, had that been my plan my whole time then fine, but if I decide to go back at 9 months and they say I can still only have stat pay and no reimbursement because it was my plan to take a year then ill be pretty miffed.

  • Exactly. You'd be peeved to forgo the extra cash, but I guess for them that's why it's set that way, so they know exactly and make contingency plans etc. They ought to put the 'what if' stuff in writing really, to prevent ambiguity for their sake as well as yours.

  • I know... But I'm not surprised at the same time! Think ill put all of my questions in email to HR and ask for email answers... So it's documented for future reference should I need it.

  • To your original question, yes they do have to let you come back early if you give them the required amount of notice. Generally it would only be a redundancy or reorganisation that would mean that you wouldn't get your original job back. Even then they have a positive duty towards pregnant people/mums on may leave to find them a suitable alternative role. That means you would get first dibs of the jobs going if yours was made redundant. They would have to consult with you etc otherwise it's automatically unfair.

    I've never heard of a mat pay scheme like that, but I can't see what's wrong with it legally. Ethically its a tad questionable but it's better than sat pay. Surely if you change the timeframe by shortening or lengthening your leave, they would amend your future pay as appropriate but I would definitely check this point out in advance. I think it's better to be upfront an have the answer in writing.

    Hope HR are helpful.

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