Employee and employer rights when it comes to KIT days
Lockdown restrictions have ended and, despite the odd snow shower, spring is here. So employees who are on a period of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will probably be relishing the chance to get out and about with the family and enjoy the sunshine.
Unless they are nearly ready to return, they probably aren’t thinking too much about work.
But actually, as anyone who has taken an extended break from work knows, it can be daunting to return and pick up the reins as if nothing has happened. That’s where KIT (keeping in touch) days can come into their own.
What are KIT days?
Basically days an employee goes into work and performs their usual duties whilst they are on Maternity or Adoption Leave. The employee is entitled to be paid for that work and return to their period of leave afterwards. A similar arrangement applies to those on Shared Parental Leave – with the handy acronym of SPLIT days.
KIT days, specifically, are designed to allow employees to keep in touch with their colleagues and keep up-to-date with any changes at work that may have happened in their absence. They offer the opportunity to support employees with a smoother return to work. Other advantages include socialising with colleagues (an often overlooked benefit of working regularly) and answering any questions they might have about their pay, leave, role, or anything else on their mind.
Note that KIT days are not an automatic right for employees, nor can an employer force an employee to take them. Employees have to agree to their KIT days in advance with their employer. You may wish to set a schedule of KIT days before they take Maternity Leave, or arrange a catch-up phone call to discuss the dates when they’re part-way into Maternity Leave.
How many KIT days is an employee entitled to?
Employees can work for up to ten full KIT days, at any point during their leave.
This means they can work for up to ten days without bringing their Maternity or Adoption Leave to an end or losing their Statutory Maternity Pay or Adoption Pay.
If an employee has more than one job, their KIT (and also SPLIT) days apply to each job separately.
It’s important to note that if an employee works more than ten keeping in touch days, it has the effect of bringing their Maternity Leave to an end and they lose their entitlement to any ongoing Statutory Maternity Pay. So it’s essential to communicate this cap to any employee who is due to go on leave and keep a careful record.
How do SPLIT days differ?
Employees who take Shared Parental Leave are also entitled to ‘Shared Parental Leave in Touch’ or SPLIT days during that period. The basis is effectively the same as the KIT day scheme, although a little more flexible. Each parent can receive up to 20 SPLIT days without ending their Shared Parental Leave or losing their Statutory Shared Parental Pay.
SPLIT days are available in addition to KIT days. However, if your employee doesn’t use up all the KIT days during their Maternity/Adoption Leave, the unused entitlement cannot be carried forward into a period of shared parental leave.
If employees use up their ten KIT days, they could give notice to end their Maternity Leave and go onto Shared Parental Leave instead, so that they can then start to take their 20 SPLIT days. This will mean they can continue to dip their toe into work, for example one day a week, until the period of Shared Parental Leave is over.
Can employees use KIT/SPLIT days to work part-time before returning to work?
In a nutshell, yes. Employees can use their KIT and/or SPLIT days to work part time until their leave is over.
For example, they could work two KIT days a week for five weeks before returning to work – if you as their employer agree. This might be particularly helpful if you know they’re considering making a flexible working request, and you want to find out if it’s feasible from a workload perspective.
What do you pay employees for KIT/SPLIT days?
Employees are entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage for any work that they do during leave. However, many businesses will pay an employee their usual rate of pay (pro rata’d) when it’s above NMW. This should be confirmed with the employee before they undertake any work.
If an employee works a KIT or SPLIT day during their Maternity, Adoption or Shared Parental Pay period, employers must continue to pay them Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), Maternity Allowance or Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). The pay for a KIT/SPLIT day can be offset against the Statutory Pay (as long as the employee is still receiving at least the National Minimum Wage), so they will not always receive both.