So, your employee went off on maternity leave and since then they have accrued their holiday entitlement throughout their maternity leave but haven’t taken any holiday by the time they return.
What happens to the accrued holiday?
Here is a worked example:
Your employee (who works full time) had a maternity leave date of 1st April 2019 but actually finished a week earlier taking all holiday accrued up to that point (5 days plus 1 public holiday).
She takes 9 months of maternity leave so her return date will be 1st January 2020 and will have a balance of 15 statutory days holiday plus 7 public holidays totalling 22 days.
Here are some of the options available to you and your employee:
- Pay your employee for her 22 days accrued holiday at the end of her maternity leave or during maternity leave (monthly or in another arrangement)
- Allow your employee to take their accrued holiday (or part of it) at the end of their maternity leave
Remember that even if you usually have a rule that accrued holiday can’t be carried over from one year to the next, those rules do not apply to an employee on long-term leave (such as maternity leave in this case).
In essence, providing this is agreed by you and your employee there are lots of options available. Also remember that if an employee states what they want but it does not work operationally for your business, you are within your rights to decline but make a sensible alternative suggestion.
A good way to deal with this is through Keeping In Touch days of which there are 10 allowed without bringing maternity leave or pay to an end.
Keeping in touch (KIT) days can be used for getting someone back into work, training and/or updating an employee on what is happening within the business. On these KIT days you could discuss date of return, holiday and anything else linked to their maternity leave.
Employers and employees should decide if these KIT days are paid or unpaid before they are taken. In general the rule of thumb is if you are expecting work to be carried out, they should be paid but if it is just a catch up then it’s not necessary to pay the employee for the time taken.
The Simple Take Is: It’s all about communication and ensuring that your employee gets their full holiday entitlement.