Rights around paying back maternity pay if I return part time

I am currently on maternity leave. My company’s maternity policy is a good one and I have received company maternity pay in addition to the statutory pay. If I do not return to work I will be required to repay the CMP. My mum has offered to look after my baby for the three months I would be required to work in order to not have to repay the CMP, but this would only really work on a part-time basis because of her commitments. If I put in a request to work part time and if that was agreed, would I be required to repay any of the CMP, ie a pro rata amount if I returned and worked the required three months? Or would I not have to repay any of it because I would be working the three months, albeit for less hours? My company’s policy is very clear on repaying CMP in the event of failure to return and I signed a statement to that effect, but it doesn’t specify if this would be required for a reduction of hours. Also I will have accrued leave. Would I be paid this as full time if I choose for it to be paid in the time before I return or would this then be pro-rata’d If I reduced my hours? Company policy again refers to it being paid before returning to work or used up in time immediately before returning to work. But again, no clarity is given on what happens if a full-time contract becomes a part-time one.

Hand holding sign which says Maternity Leave


It is difficult to advise on repayment of company maternity pay without sight of the employer’s policies or the employee’s contract.  Given the employee’s reading of the company’s maternity policy which expressly states that CMP would have to be repaid in the event of a failure to return, the fact that it is silent on what occurs in the event that the employee returns on reduced hours, I would anticipate, you would not be required to repay the CMP in those circumstances.

In respect of annual leave, again I do not have sight of the employer’s policy or the employee’s contract so it is difficult to advise definitively.  Following additional maternity leave (more than 26 weeks), an employee’s right to return is a right to return to a her old role (except where it is not reasonably practicable to return to that job, in which case she has a right to return to a suitable and appropriate alternative job) on terms and conditions no less favourable than those that would have applied if she had not been absent.

I am unclear if you have a contractual right to return on different terms but even if you do not, you have the right to request flexible working.  It may be the case that the employer would request that the employee take the annual leave at the end of the period of maternity leave, but unless you have agreed a reduction in hours at this stage, I would anticipate these would be paid at the normal rate as that is your contractual rate of pay at the time of actually taking the annual leave.

*Samantha Tanney assisted with this answer.

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