Returning to Work From Maternity Leave: Understand Your Rights

Transitioning back to the workplace after maternity leave is a significant milestone in a woman’s life. At Barrett and Co Solicitors in Reading, we recognise the importance of this journey and are dedicated to supporting new mothers as they exercise their right to return to work. In this insightful blog, we will delve into the key aspects of returning from maternity leave, providing guidance on how to navigate this transition smoothly and confidently.

Understanding Your Right to Return to Work from Maternity Leave

By law, women have a fundamental right to return to the same job after their maternity leave. This legal safeguard ensures that new mothers are not discriminated against or disadvantaged due to their choice to start a family. Employers are legally bound to respect this right, and any attempt to hinder a woman’s return could lead to legal action.

The Power of Flexible Working Requests

Returning to work doesn’t necessarily mean going back to the same pre-maternity leave routine. Many mothers find that balancing work and family responsibilities requires flexibility. Employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements. Employers must assess these requests fairly and reasonably, seeking solutions that benefit both parties. Furthermore, the recently passed Flexible Working Bill will soon become law, bringing some significant changes to UK employment regulations.

A Closer Look at the Flexible Working Bill

The Flexible Working Bill introduces noteworthy changes to current UK employment law, all in favor of employees. In summary, this bill allows employees in the UK to make a flexible working request from the first day of their employment. It mandates that employers consult with employees before turning down such requests, permits employees to make two requests in a 12-month period, and requires employers to respond within two months (as opposed to the previous three). Importantly, employees no longer need to outline how a flexible working request might impact the employer.

Exploring KIT Days: Keeping in Touch

KIT days (Keeping in Touch) provide a valuable opportunity for maternity returnees to ease back into the workplace gradually. These days allow employees to attend work without affecting their statutory maternity leave entitlement. KIT days can be used for training, meetings, or other work-related activities. New mothers can use these days to familiarise themselves with any changes, updates, or new projects within the company.

Prioritising Health and Safety Upon Return to Work

Prioritising the health and safety of employees is of paramount importance. Employers must conduct a thorough risk assessment for maternity returnees to ensure a safe working environment. This assessment should consider potential hazards that may arise due to the physical or psychological changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Creating a supportive atmosphere can facilitate a smooth reintegration into the workplace.

Support for Breastfeeding at Work

Breastfeeding is a natural and essential aspect of a baby’s early development. As a new mother returning to work, you have the right to continue breastfeeding or expressing milk at your workplace. Employers must accommodate these needs by providing a private, comfortable space where you can pump milk during working hours. Understanding your rights and openly discussing your needs with your employer can help ensure a positive breastfeeding experience at the workplace.

Protection Against Unfair Dismissal

Returning from maternity leave should not expose you to the risk of unfair dismissal. If you believe your employer has dismissed you due to your maternity leave or return to work, seeking legal advice promptly is crucial. Unfair dismissal is against the law, and you have the right to challenge such actions.

Final Thoughts on Returning to Work from Maternity

The return to work from maternity leave is a significant milestone that should be embraced with confidence and support. At Barrett and Co Solicitors in Reading, we are committed to empowering new mothers by providing comprehensive guidance on their rights when returning to work.

Understanding your entitlements regarding flexible working, KIT days, health and safety, breastfeeding, and protection against unfair dismissal is essential for a smooth and successful transition. Together, we can create an inclusive workplace that values and supports women throughout their professional and personal journeys. If you have any questions or require legal advice on your return to work, please do not hesitate to reach out to Barrett and Co Solicitors in Reading.