Managing return to work | Annual leave and sickness at end of maternity leave

If you agree, it is possible for an employee to add parental leave to the end of her maternity leave. Parental leave is unpaid and can only be taken in full weeks unless you agree otherwise. See:, //

Refusal to allow an employee to take parental leave at the end of her maternity leave may be discrimination but only if the reason for refusal is because of her maternity leave or because of a protected characteristic. It would not be discriminatory to refuse an employee to take parental leave, straight after maternity leave, if there are genuine business reasons.

Yes, if you agree. An employee has a right to build up annual leave during her maternity leave.

An employee must be allowed to carry over any unused part of her statutory leave entitlement of 28 days (including bank holidays). The law is not clear if the employee’s contract says that she is entitled to more than 28 days (including bank holidays) and you should take advice if that applies to your employee. 

It is good practice to agree with the employee when she will take this leave, which may be before she goes on maternity leave, at the end of her maternity leave or later in the year. 

If an employee is sick and cannot return to work at the end of her maternity leave, she will be entitled to take sick leave and pay in the normal way. You should follow your normal sickness procedures. She should be treated as being back at work (and on sick leave) even if she has not physically returned to work because of sickness.

If an employee is off sick because of post natal depression she does not have the same protection as if she was off sick because of her pregnancy as she is no longer in the protected period.

You can take disciplinary action against an employee who is absent on sick leave after the end of her maternity leave period provided a fair procedure is adopted. No account should be taken of any pregnancy related sickness or absence on maternity leave.  

Last updated: 13 May 2016