Keep in Touch Days – What are they and how to use them.by Emma Dowey
Maternity leave feels like a distant dream now that I’m two years in with my second son. Let’s just say Covid and lockdowns haven’t helped. I was fortunate to just finish maternity leave when Covid struck in 2020. Before that, though, I’d opted to take a full twelve months leave. I knew this baby would be my last, and I wanted to make the most of my time away from my desk. What I didn’t want, though, was to return to work feeling unconfident and out of the loop. As a working mum, I’ve found it can be tough enough to balance children and a career. And this is where Keep in Touch days come in.
What are Keep in Touch Days?
Keep in Touch days, or KIT days, are precisely as they say on the tin. Days designed to help you keep in touch with your employer. Employees can work up to a maximum of 10 days while on maternity or adoption leave. They need to be agreed between employer and employee beforehand, and they should be paid. Although optional, they can be beneficial for keeping you in the loop and topping up maternity pay.
When Might I use a KIT day?
As long as you agree to work KIT days, you can use them for various reasons – getting up to speed on workplace changes, training days and staff meetings, as well as conferences and away days. When I was on my second maternity leave, our company was acquired by another. They held a large conference in the autumn, and I used KIT days to fly to Austria, attend the conference, meet with my new colleagues and return home. It was hugely beneficial and I welcomed the time out from parenting. It meant that when I returned to work three months later, I had an idea of the team structures and what my role would encompass. Rather than feeling distanced and unsure, I felt confident to return to work once the time arrived.
Do I have to use KIT days?
No, you don’t need to work any KIT days during your maternity leave. Any days you do work need to be agreed by both employer and employee. Likewise, you cannot insist you work KIT days. I was lucky that my employer was flexible and guided by my decision to work KIT days. I used all ten each time I took maternity leave. This helped me get up to speed with my job, but a significant deciding factor was pay. The additional money during the unpaid part of maternity leave was welcome.
When can I use KIT days?
KIT days can be taken at any time during ordinary and additional maternity leave. Personally, I wanted to entirely switch off from all work-related stuff for a while. I didn’t do any KIT days during both maternity leave periods until my children were around 6 months. I then took 1 day every 4-6 weeks, agreed with my employer in advance.
Will I get paid?
You should be paid for working KIT days but this isn’t law. Make sure you agree on this with your employer before heading back to the office. Also, consider any childcare costs. We were lucky that Grandma was on hand to look after the children when I worked those KIT days.
Returning to work after a long period of leave can feel daunting. I found that KIT days helped me feel connected to work once again and put me in the right mindset to get back to the office. Rather than return and feel like the “new girl”, KIT days gave me the chance to get up to speed. It also minimised that massive “Sunday night” dread once my return to work came around.
Are you on maternity leave? Will you work any KIT days? Are you apprehensive about going back to work?