Maternity returner seeking flexible working and a second job: Ask the expert

I am currently on maternity leave from a full time management position in retail. Due to the hours of the business being open I was wondering about doing the following to enable me to look after my child as much as possible: apply for flexible working just for one day a week as a sales assistant (assuming they would agree to this) and then get a second job as a waitress in the evenings. My conditions of my maternity leave just state that I must return for six months after my maternity leave otherwise I must pay back my maternity allowance ( I had the full package from them due to my length of service) Legally am I doing anything wrong?

As an employee on maternity leave, you have a statutory right to return to either your same job or a similar job at the end of your maternity leave period. You would need to obtain your employer’s agreement in the event that you wish to apply for a different job within the business. You will not have an automatic right to return to a sales assistant’s role.

You will be permitted to apply for flexible working provided that you have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks’ as at the date of your application and you have not made any other flexible working request in the preceeding twelve months.

Any such request needs to be put in writing and it is advisable to use the template on the BERR website which ensures that your request falls in line with the statutory requirements. In relation to repayment of your maternity pay, you would need to check the wording of your employer’s maternity policy so as to clarify whether the maternity pay will be repayable in the event that you return on different terms and conditions of employment, namely a different job title and reduced hours. You should not be required to pay back SMP, so your liability will be limited to any maternity pay paid to you in excess of the statutory entitlement.


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