Employee rights when on leave

Employee rights are not usually affected when they take maternity, paternity, adoption, parental, parental bereavement, or Shared Parental Leave. Some employees can work up to 10 paid days (20 days for Shared Parental Leave) during their leave.

Keeping in touch days

Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity or adoption leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch days’. Keeping in touch days are optional - both the employee and employer need to agree to them.

The type of work and pay employees get should be agreed before they come into work. The employee’s right to maternity or adoption leave and pay is not affected by taking keeping in touch days.

Employees can work up to 20 days during their Shared Parental Leave. These are called ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days. These days are in addition to the 10 ‘keeping in touch’ (or KIT) days already available to employees on maternity or adoption leave.

Terms and conditions protection

Normally, the employment terms and conditions are protected and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave.

Pension contributions usually stop if a period of leave is unpaid, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, during unpaid periods of maternity leave or parental leave.

Employees continue to build up holiday entitlement and can take any holiday they’ve accrued (built up) before or after the leave.

Returning to work

Employees have the right to return to their job if they take:

  • Paternity Leave
  • only 26 weeks of Maternity or Adoption Leave
  • only 26 weeks of Shared Parental Leave (between both parents)
  • 4 weeks or less of unpaid Parental Leave
  • Parental Bereavement Leave

If employees take more leave

If the employee takes more leave they’ll have the right to their job or a similar job (if it’s not possible to give them their old job).

Similar means the job has the same or better terms and conditions. If the employee unreasonably refuses to take the similar job the employer can take this as their resignation.


Employees have the right to be offered any suitable alternative job (where one is available) if they’re selected for redundancy (even if other colleagues are more suitable for the role) while on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

An employee can only be made redundant if the employer can clearly justify doing it - for example a part of the business closes and everyone in that section is made redundant. There are other rules for employers when making staff redundant.