Working during maternity leave: Ask the expert

I’m due to finish work on 29.02.08 to have a baby, due on 08.04.08. I’m interested in working from home for the remaining weeks I have left before the baby’s due or returning to work within 6 months of maternity leave, but working from home only. Would you be able to advise?

During maternity leave, an employee is under no obligation to do any work relating to their job since this period is designed to give a female a break from the working environment as she prepares for the birth of her child.

You indicated that your maternity leave starts on 29/2/08 which I am assuming has been formally agreed with your employer in writing since there is a legal process that employers must follow in relation to the start and end dates of maternity leave. With regards to working between then and the due date of 8/4/08, it is your choice if you want to work. This must not be demanded from your employer since legally you are on maternity leave and your salary and pay slip should reflect this. As an aside, you will need to discuss this working with your manager so he/she understands the extent of your involvement and whether you want to be copied into all emails and correspondance.

Often, women on maternity leave request no contact at all for some months so it’s only fair that your manager understands exactly how involved you want to be so he/she can help accommodate your request. You should be aware that during the maternity period, you are legally entitled to up to 10 “Keep in Touch Days” where employees can actually carry out work for their employer for which they will be paid. Apart from those, an employer will not expect you to work and in fact may have made arrangements to cover your position during the maternity period.

Once you have had the baby, legally you have to take a minimum of 2 weeks off work and a maximum of 52 weeks maternity leave. If you wish to return to work before the end of your Ordinary Maternity Leave (the first 26 weeks) you will need to give your employer 8 weeks notice. In terms of working from home during this period, again, if you want to work during that period, that is up to you and your employer, but your salary will still reflect that you are on maternity leave and not on full pay until you formally tell your employer you are returning to work.

If you are considering working from home on a more permanent basis after the end of your maternity leave, you are entitled to apply to a change in your working arrangements under the right to Request Flexible Working regulations and, provided that you follow the appropriate procedure when putting forward your request (either the statutory guidelines or those set out within your company’s Handbook), your employer must seriously consider your request and offer you the opportunity to put your case forward in person accordingly. I hope these points help.

While every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or ommissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice. If you have any questions for any of our experts on employment issues, childcare, career development, the work life balance, child psychology or education email them to mandy@workingmums.co.uk



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