Keep in Touch days during leave provide a great opportunity, but you don't want to end up feeling like a spare part with nothing to do. Here, we share our top tips on how to plan and make the most of them.
What is a Keep in Touch Day?
A Keep in Touch day does pretty much, what it says on the tin. Designed to prevent employees feeling like they've fallen off the communication precipice once they go on maternity/surrogacy or adoption leave, in the UK it's possible to work up to 10 days while you're off - or 20 during Shared Parental Leave. (For employees in Ireland see separate advice below).
How do you arrange them?
Before you go on leave, it's a good idea to discuss a rough timeline and frequency for these days with your manager so they are mutually agreed beforehand - even if that's loosely. Try also to have a general plan of what you and your manager would like to achieve through the days.
What are you supposed to do when you go in?
The aim of a Keep in Touch day is to keep you in the loop, so what you use these days for is up to you, however, it's important to have some kind of plan. Discuss what a successful outcome of these days would look like to you and work towards this with your manager.
You could use the days to:
- attend a team event or relevant conference
- undertake some training
- arrange some special meetings or be part of key briefings
- re-engage with clients and customers
- meet new members of the team and be informed of any workplace changes
- connect with a previous returner or mentor to help you with your return transition
Other things to think about:
- Consider if you would like to work a full or half-day (note: if you do a half-day, you will probably be paid for just a half-day but it may be allocated as a full one of your Keep in Touch or Shared Parental Leave in Touch days)
- Who else needs to be involved? For example, check with HR and Payroll
- Do you need an advance preparatory call with your manager to ensure you get the most out of the day - or could this be arranged at the start of the day?
- Practical requirements - if you're physically going into the office you'll probably need a suitable working space and some functioning IT and don't forget you might need an access pass that your email account might need to be reactivated
Other things to think about for your child if you'll be going into the office:
- Will you need any practical arrangements to express milk during the day?
- Will you need to go and meet your child and carer at lunch?
- Will you need to request to keep your phone on silent in case of an emergency? (especially if this is your first time away from your child)
Working in Ireland*
Although Keep in Touch days are not statutory in Ireland, as in the UK, some global companies may offer KiT days anyway. Even if they don't, you may still want to keep the lines of communication open with your employer while on leave:
- Consider speaking to your manager before going on leave to discuss how you would like to be communicated with - email, text, WhatsApp, phone call, and how often
- Discuss the option of coming into the office during leave and whether this will be paid or unpaid
- If you do decide to go in, the benefits of forward planning and setting goals remain the same