• Session summary
    The session focused on;

    1. Steps ahead – The CIPD mentoring scheme that offers support to young people as well as those returning to work after a break in the workplace; and
    2. The legal aspects of returning to work after maternity leave or extended career breaks and interaction with flexible working requests.

    Legal aspects

    • The expected date of an employee’s return after maternity leave is the end of 52 weeks’ unless the employee has said otherwise. There is no need for her to provide further notice of return.
    • An employer can delay the employee’s return if requested earlier or later if sufficient notice is not given, delay can be so that the employer has up to eight weeks’ notice but cannot be beyond the end of statutory maternity leave.
    • Returning after OML or AML an employee has the right to return to the same job, on the same or no less favourable terms unless following AML it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
    • Following agreement to a flexible working request, any variation will be a permanent contractual variation, a written statement of any changes should be provided within 1 month of the changes taking effect.
    • The U.K has no legal right for an employee to take a career break; much will depend upon the individual business and/or any policy that may be in place.

    Steps ahead

    • A free national programme developed by CIPD, matching jobseekers referred primarily by the Jobcentre Plus, 18-24 year olds, parent and carer returners.
    • Mentors volunteer to give advice on CV writing, job search, interview, employability, meetings etc.
    • Mentors and mentees voluntarily commit to up to six sessions over the course of six to eight weeks.
    • There has also been a successful pilot scheme supporting 50+ jobseekers in the Gloucestershire area.
    • In Kent, there are currently 196 mentees registered, in 2016 16 found employment.

    Key learning points

    • Mentoring under the CIPD scheme is voluntary but is rewarding in many ways, for H.R specialists it can be a way of giving something back to the community.
    • From a practical perspective, it is good to meet with pregnant employees before during and prior to return from maternity leave so that both parties can discuss and understand expectations, maintain contact and be kept updated.
    • When considering return to work in the ‘same job, on the same or no less favourable terms’ it is important to review the facts of each specific situation including looking at the contract as well as the job and nature of the work that was actually being done.
    • Claims of discrimination can be brought regardless of employees’ length of service and can be costly for a business as compensation is unlimited, much management time is likely to be spent dealing with any such matter and it can lead to negative press.
    • It is questionable whether the flexible working legislation has any bite as a successful claim is limited to a maximum of eight weeks’ pay at the statutory cap.

    Brachers can assist your business in keeping up to date with developments around return to work or other employment law topics and can provide bespoke in-house training, contact Louise Brenlund on 01622 776405 if you would like to discuss further.

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    This content is correct at time of publication

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