Ensuring you effectively use the Keeping in Touch (KIT) days available to you whilst on your maternity leave can ensure a much smoother and positive return to work once maternity leave is over. However, due to a lack of awareness & useful guidance on how to use them means working mums are missing out.
This guide, aims to ensure more working parents fully utilise their available (KIT) days, get paid to do so and maximise the value gained. By building a plan, sharing this with your manager and jointly agreeing expectations for your KIT days you will feel more connected with work whilst on leave as well as boosting your confidence when it comes to navigating your return.
KIT days mean you can work up to ten days on maternity (or adoption) leave without your pay or leave being affected and can be used at any time – except for the first 2 weeks. (for shared parental leave it is up to 20 days). They are not automatic however so do check your company policy!
Do I get paid for KIT days?
Yep, you sure do and the additional pay can be a life-line for when you are hit with an eyewatering childcare bill after months of only statutory pay! KIT days (or SPLIT) should be paid within the usual payroll period. Do be aware that KIT days cannot be divided when it comes to pay -so if you only work a couple of hours one day this will be paid as a full day –so please get agreement in advance (preferably via email)!
How can I use my KIT days?
KIT days can be used for any work relevant for your role – if you have a good relationship with your manager, work together to decide on the most useful ways to use your KIT Days. Think - What would be most helpful to do prior to my return? and what concerns can I tackle?
Kit days are often used for attending team meetings or training – could these be combined? To allow you to catch up with colleagues and get up to speed on a new software? Could you attend the project launch that will be a focus for you on return? Is a team social event planned – off sites are a great way to get some visibility?
Alternatively, you could allocate KIT days to create a staggered return - Using say two of your KIT days a week, this could also provide an opportunity to “pilot” an altered working pattern?
Don’t forget you will likely need to pay for childcare arrangements on your KIT days so make sure you are building this cost into your plans.
Here are my 8 top tips:
- Plan early for how you will use your KIT days - ideally prior to leave whilst you are still focused on work & clear about your priorities. Everything tends to get a little more foggy after 6 months of maternity leave!
- Communicate clearly – Document to both HR & your manager what work or activities you will be doing on each KIT day and what expect to be paid for (on email) to avoid any disputes that may upset your return.
- Create a joint plan with your manager, discuss what would be most helpful for you and what is feasible for the team.
- Be sure to think about what activities would specifically help YOUR return and incorporate these into your KIT days…can you also incorporate a commute & drop off in to check if your planned timings are realistic?
- Re-connect with your network & plan a coffee with key contacts on the days you will be in. Set expectations in advance however – Is this a quick hello? or are you looking for help with a new role on your return?
- Don’t over plan each day with back-to-back meetings…KIT days are an opportunity to ease yourself back in, re-orientate yourself and get a lie of the land rather than exhausting yourself!
- Make sure you have organised any required access or password information prior to your arrival so you don’t end up wasting a day of childcare whilst you are stuck in the car park.
- Relish the opportunity to introduce your new baby on one of your KIT days – but don’t over commit yourself, a quick pop in is probably best as if they are anything like mine this will be the moment that your baby has a trapped wind, needs a massive feed or has an explosive poo which can all be a disconcerting with your colleagues!
Rachel Jackson is the Founder and CEO of A Different Me; the organisation is focused on positively impacting the lives of working mothers. Rachel is a qualified coach and supports her clients through the many transitions experienced as a working mum. She also works to change the workplace as a consultant - shaping, enhancing and evolving parental policy that enables working parents to thrive.
If you would like to discuss this article or any other aspect of being a working parent, contact [email protected] or www.adifferentme.co.uk