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ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED June/July 2017

KEEP IN TOUCH DAYS and KEEPING IN TOUCH!

Keep in Touch Days were introduced over a decade ago in April 2007; they are commonly known as KIT days.

They have been popular with both employers and employees and are regularly used in Salons but they are also still widely misunderstood.

Since their introduction the rules surrounding their use have become established and in this feature I will clarify a number of issues. Keeping in touch with staff on maternity leave is an entirely different issue.

WHAT ARE KIT DAYS?

Initially employees on maternity leave were able to work up to 10 KIT days. The novel feature was that they were paid but continued to receive their maternity pay. Previously their maternity leave automatically ended when they returned to work for a single day.

It is easy to see that KIT days were a positive thing. Both the employer and employee had to agree to 1 or more KIT days being worked.

For an employer they might provide:

  • cover at peak periods or holidays
  • attendance at training events or shows
  • a way of retaining staff. As we know so many don't return after maternity leave.
  • a way for the employee to retain key clients
  • a means of maintaining a link or phasing back into work. Instead of having 13 weeks unpaid maternity leave the employee could work 2 days a week as KIT days for the last 5 weeks

With the introduction of Shared Parental leave in April 2015 the number increased to 20 KIT Days per parent. Previously it was just 10 days for the mother.

THE SMALL PRINT

The employee can do any sort of work for the employer on a KIT day, for example attend a training seminar, and they are paid a normal days pay including commission if appropriate.

However, even if you only work a few hours it still counts as a whole KIT day (so the employee can’t work 20 KIT half days.

You can begin KIT days 2 weeks after the birth.

Kit days don’t have to be consecutive or even taken in the same month.

Kit days aren’t compulsory on either party. If the employer or employee doesn’t want them then they don’t happen.

An employee doesn’t have to work all 10 of the KIT days ( or 20 if its Shared Parental Leave).

If you turn down an employee’s request for KIT days they can’t claim anything in compensation.

I have been asked if turning down a request from an employee would be sex discrimination. I can only give my opinion which is no and I am not aware of any cases successful or unsuccessful.

AND THE OTHER TYPE OF KEEPING IN TOUCH

Employers also have concerns about keeping in touch with staff when they are on maternity, are they returning, when are they returning etc. Legally you can maintain reasonable contact with the mother, but what is reasonable? It’s a good idea to chat to the employee before they go on maternity leave. If the employee says they want no verbal contact then you must respect that.

It might be the employee wants to know if a vacancy or promotion opportunity arises, they might want to know if a colleague is leaving, they might want to know about training opportunities. It might be you agree to meet or call once a month for a general update.

Employers are often anxious to know of the employees plans for returning to work (or not). Legally the employee can have up to 12 months maternity leave, if they wish to return earlier they are required to give a minimum of 8 weeks notice, there is no obligation for them to make any sort of decision before that. In my view discussing intentions is fruitless as so many things can change following the birth. Going full circle the contact might be to discuss the situation regarding “Keep in touch days”.



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