Changing return to work date: ask the expert

I have written to my employer stating I will return to work in September. Can I withdraw this date and take the rest of my due maternity leave?  I have also asked to reduce my hours which they have declined without a valid reason other than ‘staff restrictions’.  The staff situation is the exact same as it was when I went on leave and there was never a problem before with me normally completing my required duties well within the time given so I don’t see that finishing one hour earlier per day is going to cause any significant concerns.  I know I can appeal this and I am considering doing so, but I don’t know where to start.  The main thing I need to know, though, is can I withdraw my return to work date and also if I decide not to go back where do I stand in terms of statutory maternity pay that I have received. Should this be paid back? Please help!

Subject to whether or not your employer wrote back to you confirming in writing your return to work date, you must give eight weeks’ notice of your revised later return to work date unless a lesser notice period can be mutually agreed between you and your employer.  However, if your employer omitted to write to you acknowledging your letter setting out your intended return date then you are under no obligation to give notice of any revised date.

In respect of your flexible working request, you have a right of appeal, details of which should have been provided by your employer at the time of their original decision.  I would advise you to appeal on the grounds set out in your query requesting specific data from your employer to validate their reasons for their refusal of your request.  In the event that you do not return to work, you do not have to pay back SMP.

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