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Topic: Work and parents

insufficient notice of return from maternity leave
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Insufficient notice of return from maternity leave

Insufficient notice of return from maternity leave

If an employee asks to return to work early before the expiry of her one year of maternity leave, it’s important that she gives the proper minimum eight weeks’ advance notice of an early return. Use our letter to inform an employee that she has provided insufficient notice. If she hasn’t given the requisite minimum notice, you’re entitled to defer her return date or to send her home if she tries to come to work.

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’ 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 delay her return (or send her home if she tries to turn up at work) until eight weeks have elapsed from the time she gave notice. If she gave notice that was less than eight weeks prior to her due date of return, this will mean she should return to work on the original date, i.e. there won’t be an early return. Our letter essentially re-states the statutory position. It confirms the original expected return date, clarifies that eight weeks’ advance notice is required of an early return, states that insufficient notice has been given by the employee and therefore confirms the earliest date on which she can now return to work, being either eight weeks after the date of giving notice, or the original expected return date itself where less than eight weeks’ notice was given before this date.


Be aware that if you have failed to inform your employee of the date on which her maternity leave period will end (using, for example, our Acknowledgement of Notification of Maternity Leave Letter), she doesn’t then have to give you advance notice of her intention to return to work early. She can just return early and you would have no right to delay her return, send her home or withhold her pay.







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