Introduction to this document

Reply to request for early return from maternity leave


This letter may be used by an employer where an employee gives notice that they wish to return early from maternity leave. If insufficient notice is given, you may choose to accept the date for early return, but you are not obliged to do so and you can postpone the employee's return until the notice requirement has been satisfied or until maternity leave ends, whichever is earlier.


Legal position

Under the statutory provisions, an employee who intends to return to work at the end of her full period of maternity leave doesn’t need to give her employer advance notice that this is her intention - she can simply report for work on her due return date. However, if she wishes to return to work early before the end of her maternity leave period, she must give you not less than eight weeks’ advance notice of the date on which she intends to return. The law doesn’t say this notice of an early return has to be in writing so it could be verbal, although it’s always best to ask her to confirm her position in writing (an e-mail will suffice) so that there are no misunderstandings. If your employee fails to give at least eight weeks’ notice, you’re legally entitled to postpone her return until eight weeks have elapsed from the time she gave notice or until maternity leave ends, whichever is earlier. Our Reply to Request for Early Return from Maternity Leave letter has three alternative options. The first is that she has given sufficient notice and therefore you are simply confirming her new early return date. If insufficient notice has been given, the second option enables you to postpone her return date and the third confirms that you nevertheless agree to accept her early return date.

Shared parental leave

The employee may choose to curtail her entitlement to maternity leave/pay and convert the balance into shared parental leave/pay. Our letter also confirms receipt of any notice of such an intention.