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I qualified for additional maternity pay on the condition that I return to work for three months (otherwise I have to pay back the additional element). I have accrued 30 days of annual leave and have agreed that I’ll take these after my maternity leave ends (1 May 2016), so my physical return to work will be after maternity leave ends, on 31 May 2016. My notice period is also three months. If I want to leave this job, without paying back maternity pay, can I hand my notice in on the 1 May, when my maternity leave ends, or does it need to be upon physical return to work, on the 31 May? I can find no clarification on this in the maternity leave guidance, only: ‘If a woman wishes to take annual leave at the end of her maternity leave period, she is deemed to have returned to work at the notified date and then she may take her annual leave as agreed with her department’.
I understand that you are due to return from work from maternity leave on 1 May 2016. You have accrued one month’s annual leave and have agreed with the company to take this at the end of your maternity leave, so you will not physically return to work until 31 May 2016. You qualified for additional maternity pay, on the condition that you return to work for three months, otherwise you have to pay back the additional element. Your notice period is three months and you require advice as to whether you can hand in your notice on 1 May or whether you should wait until you physically return to work.
As you will be taking annual leave from 1 May – 31 May 2016 your maternity leave will be deemed to have ended on 1 May 2016. You can therefore hand in your notice on 2 May 2016 and your three-month notice period will run from then. Most companies require employees to use any accrued holiday entitlement during their notice period in any event. In order to ensure that you are not required to pay back the additional element of maternity pay received it may be wise to hand your notice in a few days or a week after 2 May 2016, so there can be no argument that you did not return for the full three months.
This advice is subject to the wording of the maternity pay policy, and whether this excludes annual leave from the three months return requirement. I have presumed from your email that this is not specified.
If you encounter any issues when you hand in your notice, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0113 200 9784.