Introduction to this document

Return from maternity leave letter

All pregnant employees have the right to take up to 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and up to a further 26 weeks’ additional maternity leave and to resume work afterwards. An employee who decides to return at the end of her 52-week entitlement isn’t required in law to give you notice of her return date (she can simply turn up for work) and likewise you’re not required to write reminding her she’s due back. However, our letter will ensure misunderstandings are avoided.

Avoid confusion

Whilst you’re not obliged to write to your employee, it’s useful to do so not only to remind her of her due return date but also to set out her rights on return to work, for example, the right to return to the same role and the position regarding annual leave entitlement. In addition, the letter can cover any arrangements for her return. It’s surprising how many employees fail to turn up because they’ve got the dates wrong! If your employee returns to work late, or fails to return at all, at the end of additional maternity leave, ascertain the reason for the late or non-return before deciding what action to take. If you’ve sent our Return from Maternity Leave Letter a few weeks before she’s due back, she won’t be able to use the excuse that she got confused about her return date.


Notice to terminate

If your employee decides she doesn’t wish to return to work after her maternity leave, she’s obliged to give you proper notice of resignation under the terms of her written statement of employment particulars. If the notice period would expire after her maternity leave has ended, you may require her to return to work to serve out the remainder of the notice period. If she fails to do so, make it clear to her that she has no right to be paid for any part of her notice period that she’s not willing to work.

Right to return

Your employee has the right to resume working in the same job if she is returning to work at the end of ordinary maternity leave (although she has to give you eight weeks’ advance notice if she does want to return early). If she’s returning to work after additional maternity leave, her right is to return either to the same job or, if this isn’t reasonably practicable, to another suitable job on no less favourable terms and conditions.

Don’t make assumptions

If your employee fails to acknowledge your reminder letter and has made no other contact during her maternity leave, don’t just assume she’s not intending to return from maternity leave. Instead, wait until her due return date and only then if she fails to turn up make reasonable enquiries to establish why.

Sickness absence

If your employee is unable to return to work at the end of her maternity leave on account of sickness, treat her in the same way as you would any other employee absent from work due to sickness, for example by paying statutory and/or contractual sick pay. The day on which the employee should have returned to work will be the first day of her sickness absence. In these circumstances, she will be under a duty to notify you that she is sick and unable to come to work, and, where necessary, provide medical evidence of her incapacity.