Employee rights whilst on leave

Employee rights are not usually affected when they take maternity, paternity, adoption or parental leave and some employees can work up to 10 paid days during their leave. 

Employees whose baby is due or who adopt a child on or after 5 April 2015 may be entitled to take Shared Parental Leave (external link)

Keeping in touch days 

Employees can work up to 10 days during their maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave. These days are called ‘keeping in touch days’. Keeping in touch days are optional - both the employee and employer need to agree to them. 

The type of work and pay employees get should be agreed before they come into work. The employee’s right to maternity, adoption or additional paternity leave and pay isn’t affected by taking keeping in touch days. 

Terms and conditions protection 

Normally, the employment terms and conditions are protected and employees are entitled to any pay rises and improvements in terms and conditions given during the leave. 

Pension contributions usually stop if a period of leave is unpaid, unless your contract says otherwise. For example, during unpaid periods of maternity leave or parental leave. 

Employees continue to build up holiday entitlement and can take any holiday they have accrued (built up) before or after the leave. 

Returning to work  

Employees have the right to return to their job if they take:   

  • Paternity Leave   

  • only 26 weeks of Maternity or Adoption Leave 

  • only 26 weeks of Shared Parental Leave (between both parents) 

  • 4 weeks or less of unpaid Parental Leave 

If employees take more leave  

If the employee takes more leave they will have the right to their job or a similar job (if it’s not possible to give them their old job).  

Similar means the job has the same or better terms and conditions. If the employee unreasonably refuses to take the similar job the employer can take this as their resignation. 


Employees have the same redundancy rights (external link) as their colleagues while on maternity, adoption, paternity or parental leave. 

Employees have the right to be offered any suitable alternative job if they’re selected for redundancy (even if other colleagues are more suitable for the role) while on maternity, adoption or paternity leave. 

An employee can only be made redundant if the employer can clearly justify doing it - for example a part of the business closes and everyone in that section is made redundant. There are other rules for employers when making staff redundant (external link).