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Introduction to this document

Letter to employee on maternity leave

Once an employee on maternity leave has given birth, it’s a good idea to write and congratulate her. You can also use this as a useful opportunity to remind her of the expected return date and to raise the issue of flexible working at an early stage. Our letter is not compulsory but it can help ensure the eventual return to work process goes smoothly.

A gentle reminder

As well as congratulating the mother on the new addition to her family and wishing her well, our Letter to Employee on Maternity Leave reminds her when her maternity leave is due to end and when she’s due back at work. Of course, she’ll already have had this in writing from you before she went on maternity leave but there’s no harm in repeating the information as it ensures there should be no misunderstandings. Our letter also restates the point that if she wants to come back early from maternity leave, she has to give at least eight weeks’ advance notice, and if she doesn’t want to come back at all, she must give the notice period specified in her contract of employment.

Flexible options

The main purpose of our letter is, however, to raise the issue of flexible working early on. It’s not actually up to you to tell the employee about her statutory right to make a request for flexible working but it’s much better to tackle the issue as soon as possible - we’ve lost count of the times employers have complained about employees asking for part-time work or changed hours literally a few days before they’re due back to work. This gives the employer no time to properly consider the request, let alone put any necessary arrangements in place, so it’s often not sorted out before the employee comes back. To deal with this problem, our letter advises the employee that if she’s interested in applying for flexible working arrangements on her return to work, she needs to submit a flexible working application form as far as possible in advance of her return date, particularly as you are allowed up to three months to consider a flexible working request (including dealing with any appeal). That way, with plenty of advance warning, you can fully consider any request and how you may be able to accommodate it. Then, by the time the employee is due back at work, everything should be sorted out.