I am due to return to work after 53 weeks of maternity leave. I received enhanced maternity pay and in the maternity policy it states that if I do not return for a period of three months, the additional pay is to be paid back. My situation is I suffered a birth trauma and my son has a brain injury, but we will not be able to predict the impact until he is at least two years old. It’s all very stressful and the thought of leaving him to return to work is killing me. My question is, are there any guidelines or laws that offer protection in theses circumstances as it’s going to be difficult for me to pay back the full amount if I don’t return to work?
Firstly, I am so sorry to hear of the difficultly both you and your son faced at birth and the results since. It must be a terrible time for you and I really hope he is able to make a full recovery.
You will not have to pay back any of the statutory maternity pay. Additional maternity pay (AMP) is the part that some companies will make you pay back if you do not return to work. So it will be the additional part over the statutory amount, not all the pay you received for the duration of your maternity leave.
I would firstly check your contract and your maternity leave policy to see exactly what is says about possibly paying it back. Some companies say you will have to repay it if you do not return to work, but then there isn’t anything in writing.
There also might be a rule that goes with the repayment, such as you must repay the AMP if you do not return to work for a certain period of time such as three months.
You might be able to negotiate that you are unable to return to work due to your exceptional circumstances, and hopefully your employer will be understanding that you are unable to return to work and not make you pay back the additional pay.
Other options you could look at are whether you are covered as a carer under the Equality Act 2010 and whether you have any holiday you have accrued that you could use to cover the time you would need to return work; or maybe you could even apply for a career break.