Return to work following maternity leave

Following ordinary maternity leave (OML) you have the right to return to your same role under the same terms and conditions as prior to commencement of statutory maternity pay (SMP).

Following additional maternity leave (AML) you have the right to return to your same role under the same terms and conditions as prior to commencement of SMP unless it is not reasonably practical for the employer. In these situations you have the right to a similar role under the same terms and conditions as before.

You will have agreed a return to work date with your employer at the commencement of your employment. If you want to change your return to work date at any time you have to give your employer 8 week’s notice.

Right to request flexible working

On your return to work you are entitled to make a statutory request for flexible working to care for your children.

Your employer is under a duty to meet with you within 28 days. They have the right to refuse the request on the following grounds:

  • The burden of additional costs;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand;
  • Inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
  • Inability to recruit additional staff;
  • Detrimental impact on quality
  • Detrimental impact on performance
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work; or
  • Planned changes.


If your employer does not let you return to work following maternity leave (SML) you may be able to claim:

  1. Unfair dismissal; and
  2. Discrimination based on pregnancy and maternity grounds.

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