When an employee returns to work after their statutory leave there are various legal obligations:
They have the right to return to work to the same job and the same terms and conditions if they return to work after the 26 weeks of ordinary leave.
If they return to work after the period of 26 weeks of additional leave, they have the same rights however if you can show that it is not reasonably practical to return to the same job then you must offer suitable alternative work whilst protecting their existing terms and conditions.
You should always assume that an employee is taking their full 52 weeks, it is up to the employee to inform you otherwise. An employee must give a minimum of 8 weeks notice or you can insist that they don’t return until 8 weeks have passed.
If an employee decides not to return they must give notice in the normal way, taking into account their notice period which is outlined in their employment contract.
If they are ill at the end of their statutory leave then they should inform you in the normal way and follow the company absence reporting procedure.
If you offer Childcare vouchers as part of the benefit package within the contract, they can claim these from the day their child is born.
As an employer you should remember that this is a big adjustment for the employee; they are leaving their child possibly for the first time since they were born, and they will be adjusting to a new work life routine. These can all have a major impact, so be supportive and reasonable.
The meeting to discuss the return to work should be an open forum so the employee feels able to raise any concerns they may have about returning to work. Outline your expectations and reach an agreement, this can help the employee to return to work and potentially can reduce the stress.
Meeting with the employee before they return to work (see KIT days) can help iron out any potential issues and is a good chance to catch up with your employee and ensure they are up to date with any business changes.
For more information on your responsibilities and how to reduce the impact to your business, please contact us at Simple HR.