Keeping in touch during family leave

Patrick Glencross

Senior Associate

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June 18, 2024

Categories Employment Law Updates

Returning to work after family leave can be a challenging transition for some employees. As well as the practical considerations of childcare and family logistics, there may have been significant changes in the workplace during the employee’s absence, such as new colleagues, new technology or new products and services. Keeping-in-touch (KIT) days, if used properly, can be mutually beneficial and can help an employee to feel included and support their transition back to work.

Employees and employers can agree that an employee participates in up to ten KIT days during their family leave. It is however important to remember that these arrangements are entirely voluntary and employers should not try to use KIT days to force an employee to work during their family leave.

Family leave and KIT days

KIT days are available to employees on adoption leave and maternity leave, after the period of compulsory maternity leave. Up to 10 KIT days can take place without this stopping statutory maternity pay or adoption leave pay, or bringing leave to an end.

Employees on shared parental leave are entitled to 20 days ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (SPLIT) days. For employees on maternity leave or the primary adopter on adoption leave, SPLIT days are in addition to 10 KIT days. The same principles and considerations apply to SPLIT days as KIT days.

There is no provision for KIT days during other types of statutory family-friendly leave, such as paternity leave or unpaid ordinary parental leave.

The benefits of KIT days

KIT days are often used so that an employee can attend team strategy meetings, away days, or training sessions. There are many benefits to this approach as the employee is kept in the loop, their skills and knowledge are kept up to date and they enjoy the opportunity to see colleagues. All of these aspects should help make their return to work easier.

Agreeing KIT days

While the employer cannot insist on the employee working during family leave, neither can the employee insist on working. It is best practice to discuss if the employee would be interested in KIT days before they go on leave and, if so, the type of events or work they are interested in. It should be made clear that KIT days are optional, and they can change their mind even if they agreed to participate before going on leave.

If there is an important development in the business after the employee has gone on leave, such as the implementation of new IT systems or technologies which require all staff to undergo training, and they said that they do not want to be contacted about KIT days, then you need to proceed carefully in assessing how to approach this and consider taking advice.

How to organise KIT days

Employers should think about the practical arrangements for the employee when they come in for a KIT day, for instance the availability of their usual desk and equipment and having access to IT.

KIT days can also be used for remote working, and if so the employer needs to ensure the employee is set up to work remotely.

KIT days can be organised in blocks or separately. KIT days tend to be most useful close to the date when the employee will return to help with the transition, but they can be taken at any time during the leave after the period of compulsory maternity leave.

Is the employee required to carry out work on a KIT day?

While KIT days are often used for training or team away days, they can be used for carrying out specific work tasks. The employer and employee are free to agree this, for example if the employee has specific knowledge on a project that needs their input.

Should the employee be paid for a KIT day?

There are no rules on pay for KIT days in the family leave regulations, although as a minimum employers must pay the national minimum wage. It is good practice to discuss pay for KIT days before the employee goes on leave, and also including this in your family leave policies.

Typically employers offer full pay for KIT days, or time off in lieu to be taken when the employee comes back to work. Otherwise, there is little financial incentive for the employee, who may also incur travel and childcare costs in relation to KIT days. You may also be able to utilise the rules relating to offsetting statutory family leave pay against pay for KIT days.

How not to use KIT days

Employees should not feel pressurised into working or attending work events during family leave, and they are protected from less favourable treatment if they do not agree to participate in KIT days. Dismissing an employee for refusing to take a KIT day would be an unfair dismissal.

KIT days cannot be split up. Even one hour working or training will count as a whole KIT day.

Other contact with employees on family leave

Employers can have reasonable contact with an employee on family leave to discuss their return to work. This is distinct from KIT days.

To avoid a discrimination claim arising from being excluded, the employee should be asked before they go on leave if they want to receive workplace news and invitations to work social events. Employees on family leave should also be informed about promotion opportunities which arise.

You should also be particularly careful to make sure that employees on family leave are included in any consultation processes, such as consultations about proposed redundancies or changes to your pension schemes. Failure on this front could result in discrimination claims as well as undermining the integrity and validity of the overall consultation procedure.

How we can help

We can help your business make the most of the flexible arrangements for KIT and SPLIT days, and ensure that your policies on family leave enable you to do so.

For further information, contact Employment law specialist and Senior Associate, Patrick Glencross, on 01227 763939.


Please note: This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.