Keeping in Touch (“KIT”) Days – what do you need to know?
Article written by Louise Rogers
Senior Associate in our Employment and Dispute Resolution department
Most of us will have heard of KIT days with relevance to maternity leave.
The prospect of carrying out any work during a period of maternity leave can sound particularly daunting to the employee in question, equally so can the thought of suddenly returning to work after an extended period of maternity leave having not undertaken any work in the interim. This is where KIT days come in.
KIT days are designed to bridge the gap between a prolonged period of maternity leave and the return to work, the idea being that they assist with easing the employee back into their working environment. They were introduced in response to concerns that the law did not do enough to encourage effective communication between employer and employee during maternity leave.
KIT days can be an important and useful tool for both parties in ensuring the smooth running of a business and maintaining a positive employer/employee relationship during maternity leave. They should therefore be considered carefully. We have set out below a quick guide to KIT days and what they could mean for you, whether you are an employer or an employee.
What are KIT days?
KIT days are when an employee can carry out work for their employer during a period of the maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave without bringing that leave to an end. Employees can work up to 10 KIT days during a period of such leave.
KIT days are different to the reasonable contact that employers can make with employees during maternity leave.
Are there any limitations on when KIT days can be taken?
KIT days can be taken at any time during the above types of family leave – except the first two weeks following the birth of the baby where maternity leave is concerned.
What constitutes “work” for the purposes of a KIT day?
This definition is widely drawn and encompasses any work done under the contract of employment. This includes training, attending a conference or team meeting or any other activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace. Ultimately the type of work to be undertaken is subject to agreement between both parties.
It is also important to note that any day on which work is done during a maternity pay or maternity leave period will count as a whole KIT day. This means that even if an employee were only to attend the office for a one hour team meeting and nothing else, that would still be classed as 1 KIT day.
Are KIT days mandatory?
No. KIT days are voluntary. Employees do not have the right to work KIT days without their employer’s agreement. Similarly, employers do not have the right to insist on an employee working a KIT day.
The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations provide that it is unlawful for an employee to be treated unfavourably and/or to subjected to a detriment for not agreeing to work a KIT day. That includes dismissal.
How are KIT days paid?
Again, the rate of pay is subject to agreement between the parties. However, as a guide it is usually based on the employee’s contractual rate of pay/salary depending on the time spent on work done. The parties should also be mindful that KIT days may affect statutory maternity pay (SMP) which may be offset against payment in respect of such days.
What practical considerations are there for KIT days?
Firstly, it makes sense for both parties to discuss when they would like any KIT days to take place as soon as possible. This is especially the case where the employee works for a small business as the organisation will need to make plans to accommodate those days and coordinate them with the employee.
The employee should also give some thought to how they want to structure their KIT days and how spaced apart they would like these to be. For example, would it be best to spread KIT days over the leave period to ensure regular contact with the employer, or use KIT days in chunks of days? Of course, there is also the option of using all 10 days consecutively but this may not suit many employees.
In order to avoid confusion arising when dealing with KIT days employees should have a clear KIT day policy contained in the business’ maternity, adoption and additional paternity leave policies within the staff handbook and ensure that these policies are kept up to date and in line with current legislation and case law.
Should you require any advice or assistance regarding this article or any other aspect of employment law please contact Louise Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 020 7408 8888.