While ordinary maternity leave can start at any time after the beginning of the eleventh week before an employee’s expected week of childbirth, the right to additional maternity leave can only be exercised once ordinary maternity leave has finished, i.e. on the day following the end of ordinary maternity leave.
Returning from Ordinary Maternity Leave
If an employee decides not to exercise her right to take an additional maternity leave and returns to work after the expiry of 26 weeks, she will have the right to return to exactly the same job that she was doing before she left.
Returning from Additional Maternity Leave
After returning from additional maternity leave an employee has the right to return to her original job role unless an employer can demonstrate that this is no longer reasonably practicable. In such case, an employee is entitled to return to another suitable job and on terms that are no less favourable.
Right to return to work after consecutive pregnancies
Sometimes it happens that an employee becomes pregnant while she is still on her maternity leave. In such case, two different situations can occur:
Situation 1 – The beginning of the eleventh week before the week when the new baby is due falls into a period of the original maternity leave.
In this situation a pregnant employee can go straight into a further period of maternity leave without a need to return to work in the meantime. This means that the additional maternity leave for the first pregnancy is immediately followed by a second period of ordinary maternity leave. After the end of her second (consecutive) period of maternity leave an employee is entitled to her original job unless it is not reasonably practicable. In such case she has the right to return to another suitable job, on terms that are no less favourable.
Situation 2 – The first maternity leave ends before the start of the eleventh week before the week when the new baby is due.
In this situation a pregnant employee is required to return back to work for the time between the two periods of her maternity leave. If a pregnant employee returns to work (even if it is for a short period of time or even for a single day) and then, after the birth of her second child, she decides to take ordinary maternity leave only, she is entitled to return to the same job that she was doing before she left for her first maternity leave. This will not apply if an employee decides to exercise her right to take additional maternity leave for her second pregnancy. In such case she has the right to return to another suitable job, on terms that are no less favourable just exactly as she would in case of additional maternity leave during her first pregnancy.
If you need further advice or would like to speak to a member of our team please contact Tim Ollerenshaw at TimO@moore-tibbits.co.uk or call 01926 491181