How to ask for and make the most of Keep in Touch (KIT) days
Before you leave
- You can have up to ten Keep In Touch, or KIT, days during your maternity leave without bringing your statutory maternity pay or leave to an end.
- Both you and your employer need to agree to KIT days as there's no legal right to them.
- They can be taken at any point during maternity leave except for the two weeks immediately after your baby's birth. You can even take KIT days before your baby is born.
- Any part of a day worked on maternity leave (even just an hour) counts as a whole KIT day. A KIT day might include working from home.
- No law exists about how much you should be paid when doing a KIT day. This is something to agree with your employer in advance (see below).
Lindsay Anderson, solicitor, Stewart and Watson
KIT days are a tool to smooth your transition from maternity leave to being back at work. Anecdotal reports are that employees who make use of them have an easier return to work - and that's good for the wider team as well as you. There's no prescribed format for KIT days and they can be used to undertake a large range of work-related activities. It's helpful (especially if you have a line manager who doesn't immediately understand the benefits of KIT days) to think through what you intend to use KIT days for, in advance of discussions with your line manager.
Solicitor, in-house public sector
Karen Wilkie, associate, Peterkins
Possible uses of / activities to do on KIT days
- Planning meetings
- Budget meeting
- Project scoping meetings
- Annual strategy meeting
- Attending a conference
- Training course
- Reading legal updates
- Reading case files
- Client events
- Team away day
- Team meeting
- Meeting new members of the team
- Recruiting new member of the team
- Conducting direct reports or performance reviews (in conjunction with your cover)
- Agreeing your comeback plan (see below)
Jenny Allan, senior associate, CMS Cameron McKenna
One survey found 71% of women want to have KIT days, yet only 31% in the study had done so. Part of this was due to lack of encouragement by line managers. By considering the benefits of KIT days from your line manager's perspective and thinking through any objections she or he might have, you'll be able to make a good case for making use of them. "This was my manager's first experience of KIT days and so we learnt together, largely bypassing the minimal HR facility that my employer had at that time."
Katy Wedderburn, partner, MacRoberts LLP
Maternity pay and KIT day arrangements may be set out in your contract and, if not, you and your employer need to work this out in advance. You must be paid at least the minimum wage on a KIT day. Many employers top up employees' maternity pay on a KIT day to the equivalent of a regular day's pay, although they don't have to. If you need to negotiate what you'll be paid, think about travel and childcare costs and use that to make the case for a pay top-up. Whatever you agree, ask for it in writing.
It's a good idea to discuss how far in advance you would both would like to set the KIT dates and agree any flexibility for changing them. Things may happen in the organisation or in your personal life which may mean it's better for one or both of you to revise planned dates. For example, whilst one person might prefer to come in once a week in the run up to their return, another person might prefer an ad hoc agreement, coming in for specific events as and when they happen. Childcare can be a stumbling block being able to come into work at short notice, so setting expectations about how much warning you'll need for changes is useful to you both.
Solicitor, in-house public sector
 Survey conducted by The Talent Keeper Specialists in 2011 and published in 'Maternity Comeback Report - Strategies for Success' available of www.talentkeepers.co.uk