What are KIT days? KIT days are keeping in touch days, when employees on maternity leave can choose to work for you without ending or extending their maternity leave. There is a similar scheme for staff taking shared parental leave called SPLIT days (shared parental leave in touch days). Used carefully, KIT or SPLIT days can be a real benefit to your business, keeping employees feeling included during their leave and helping them hit the ground running on their return.
If you have any employees currently taking family leave, or have recently been notified of a staff pregnancy, it’s worth taking the time to read our refresher on this sometimes forgotten scheme.
What are KIT days and what an employee can do on one
Keeping in Touch days (KIT days) are days on which employees on maternity leave can choose to work for you without ending or extending their leave. KIT days can be a useful way of maintaining a positive relationship with employees who are on leave, and can make their transition back to work easier than it would otherwise be. It’s broadly up to you what an employee does on a KIT day; they could do anything they might otherwise be required to do under their usual contract of employment, undertake training or do anything else that would enable them to keep in touch with the workplace (such as a team-building day).
Note that inviting your employee into the office to discuss their return to work, or doing so over the phone, does not count as working so does not count as a KIT day or otherwise affect their leave.
KIT days are a choice on both sides
Whether an employee chooses to work for you during their leave is entirely up to them; you can’t force them to do so and you mustn’t do anything to their detriment if they choose not to, as this could amount to discrimination based on maternity status. Equally, you’re not obliged to offer employees KIT days when requested, although it’s good practice to do so and enables the staff member to feel connected to work during their leave. See Maternity – KIT Day Letter for a template letter making arrangements for a KIT day. You can also get this letter as part of the Pregnancy and maternity toolkit.
The number of KIT days an employee can take during maternity leave
Employees can take up to ten KIT days during their maternity leave. Note that any work done on a particular day will count as a full day’s work, so even if the employee just does an hour’s work then this will count as a full KIT day. This means you can’t agree to the employee doing 20 half days instead of ten full days.
It’s worth noting that employees can each take up to 20 SPLIT days during any period of shared parental leave, even if they’ve already taken KIT days during any maternity or adoption leave they took before they went on shared parental leave. The SPLIT days can be taken at any point during the leave period and it’s up to you and the employee to decide whether the days are taken as individual days scattered throughout the leave period or in blocks. See Shared Parental Leave – SPLIT day letter for a template letter inviting an employee to a SPLIT day.
The rules about when an employee can take KIT days
KIT days can be taken at any point other than the first two weeks after childbirth, when employees are not legally allowed to do any work. Therefore if, for example, an employee has had to start their maternity leave earlier than expected because the baby arrived early, you will need to wait until after this two-week period before asking them to do any work (such as a hand-over which did not take place before they left).
What to pay an employee for a KIT day
It’s common to pay an employee their usual contractual rate of pay for a KIT day. However, this is for you to decide; you can, alternatively, set out a specific rate of pay for KIT days in the employment contract or agree a rate of pay on an ad hoc basis. You must ensure that the money paid meets the National Minimum Wage and you must ensure that the woman is not paid less than a man for doing the same or equivalent work; see our Q&A on Staff pay for the rules around pay.
If your employee is being paid maternity pay during the period in which the KIT day is taken, you can either pay them a wage for their KIT day on top of this or offset their maternity pay against the money they earn for the KIT day. You’ll need to bear in mind that, if you choose the latter option, you will probably need to ensure it’s in your employee’s interests financially to come into work rather than simply to take their maternity pay.
You should make the payment terms clear in correspondence with your employee about the KIT day; see Maternity – KIT Day Letter for a template letter.
What to do when you have agreed a KIT day
Once you have agreed on a KIT day or series of KIT days, remember to review your health and safety risk assessment with an eye to the risks you have identified for new and breastfeeding mothers. Make sure you take action by doing what you can to eliminate or reduce those risks. For further information on health and safety provision for new or expectant mothers, see our recent blog.
Helen Turnbull is Head of Strategic Development for the Marketplace at FromCounsel, the specialist corporate legal resource trusted by top global law firms and FTSE 100 companies. Before joining FromCounsel in 2021, Helen was Head of Content at Sparqa Legal. Having previously spent 12 years practising as a commercial and property law barrister, Helen regularly contributes her expertise to Sparqa’s blog.