Since 1 April, 2007 the NHS Scheme has been amended to include reference to ’keeping in touch days’ which were introduced under legislation which contained improvements to statutory rights (see Doctors not covered by the NHS scheme and Keeping in touch).
What are KIT days?
KIT days allow employees to work up to 10 keeping in touch days during their maternity or adoption leave without bringing the leave period to an end.
For doctors, they can be a positive way to keep up-to-date with developments in their specialty, department or with their employer while they are away.
The NHS Scheme states that to facilitate the process of keeping in touch ‘it is important that the employer and employee have early discussion to plan and make arrangements for keeping in touch (KIT) days before the employee’s maternity leave takes place’. For doctors not covered by the NHS Scheme, they will be covered by whatever contractual maternity leave scheme exists within their employment.
Keeping in touch days are voluntary. Both employee and employer need to agree to them. You cannot be forced to work a KIT day and you must not be treated unfairly for refusing. If you have arranged to work a KIT/SPLIT day but you are unable to do so because of sickness or childcare difficulties your employer should not penalise you.
What type of work can be done on KIT days?
KIT days can cover any work activities. They can be used to attend a conference or team meeting, or to participate in training or development activities. The type of work you will do on a KIT day should be mutually agreed with your employer before you go into work.
When can KIT days be worked?
An employee cannot work during the two weeks of compulsory maternity leave immediately after childbirth. KIT days can be worked any time after this, up to the end of the maternity/adoption leave period. Any KIT days worked do not extend the maternity/adoption leave period.
KIT days can be consecutive or non-consecutive.
Any work done, even if it is just a few hours, will count as one whole KIT day.
How much will I get paid for KIT days?
There is nothing in legislation which sets out how KIT days should be paid. It is to be agreed between the employer and employee.
The NHS Scheme provides for employees to be paid at their basic daily rate for the hours worked less appropriate maternity leave payment for KIT days worked.
It is advisable to agree with your employer in advance in writing how much you will be paid for working a KIT day to avoid any confusion.
What if I’m breastfeeding when I’m asked to work a KIT day?
If an employee is breastfeeding, the employer must carry out a risk assessment and ensure facilities are provided in line with the standard health and safety provisions that govern pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers at work. More information about breastfeeding
What about help with childcare so I can work a KIT day?
Under the NHS scheme, employers are encouraged to consider the scope for reimbursement of reasonable childcare costs or the provision of childcare facilities to enable employees to take up the opportunity to work KIT days, however this is not mandatory
Shared parental leave in touch (SPLIT) days
Couples who have taken SPL (shared parental leave) are also entitled to work, without bringing their leave to an end. Each parent taking SPL can work up to 20 ‘shared parental leave in touch’ (or SPLIT) days while on SPL without their statutory leave or pay being affected. These days are in addition to the 10 KIT days available during the maternity or adoption leave period. For example, if a mother or adopter, formally ends her maternity leave and goes onto shared parental leave, she is entitled to up to 20 further days –her partner is also entitled to 20 SPLIT days.
There is no provision for payment for SPLIT days. But the principles outlined above for payment of KIT days under NHS terms and conditions are likely to be influential.
Many employers have additional policies setting out the arrangements for employees taking KIT or SPLIT days. Your employer’s HR department will have the details of this.
For more information on SPLIT days see ‘What is shared parental leave?’
Where an employee does not satisfy the qualifying conditions for the NHS Scheme she may be entitled to statutory maternity pay or the maternity allowance (see Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance ). All employees have a right to take 52 weeks of maternity leave whether they return to NHS employment or not.