Guide to Keeping in Touch Days During Parental Leave

Keeping in touch (KIT) days offer Australian employers and employees on parental leave flexibility and support. During unpaid leave, employees can use KIT days to stay connected with work, refresh skills and ease their transition back after an extended absence.

What are keeping in touch days?

Keeping in touch days (KIT Days) are a provision in Australian employment law that allows employees on unpaid parental leave to maintain a connection with their workplace. During a KIT day, an employee can return to work for a limited period without affecting their leave entitlement or any relevant government-provided Paid Parental Leave payments.

Benefits of keeping in touch days

Benefits for employees

KIT days offer numerous benefits for employees on parental leave. They help ease the transition back to work by allowing employees to stay connected with workplace changes, refresh their skills and learn about new developments within the business.

Maintaining connections with colleagues and managers through keeping in touch days fosters a sense of belonging within the company network. Keeping in touch days also offer opportunities to attend training sessions and workshops, ensuring skills remain up-to-date.

All of this can significantly reduce the anxiety that employees may feel about returning to work after an extended period of absence.

Benefits for employers

Employers also experience advantages by offering keeping in touch days to employees on parental leave. KIT days ease employee transitions by enabling employers to plan for a returning employee and manage any necessary workload adjustments as they reintegrate back into the workplace.

Keeping in touch days allow employees to participate in training sessions or learn about new systems during their leave. This ensures their skills remain current and they are prepared to resume their role effectively upon their return.

Offering KIT days demonstrates to employees that the company values their contributions, ultimately promoting loyalty and reducing the risk of losing skilled workers after their parental leave ends.

Keeping in Touch Days - Employment Compass

Eligibility for keeping in touch days

Under the Fair Work Act and the Paid Parental Leave Act, employees taking unpaid parental leave are entitled to a standard allocation of 10 Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. Should an employee choose to extend their parental leave beyond the initial 52 weeks, they are granted access to an additional 10 KIT days.

Employees can begin using keeping in touch days after a minimum of 42 days following the birth or adoption of their child. In some cases, with mutual agreement between the employee and employer, KIT days may be taken after 14 days from the birth or adoption date.

These days provide flexibility, allowing employees to attend work for short periods, full days or several days consecutively without impacting their overall parental leave entitlements.

Are there restrictions on keeping in touch day usage? Yes, there are a few key restrictions to keep in mind:

  • Initial waiting period - there's a mandatory waiting period of 14 days after the child's birth or adoption before KIT days can be used.
  • Employer approval - both the employer and employee must agree on KIT days and their scheduling.
  • Purpose - the work activities done on a KIT day must be designed to facilitate a smooth return to the workplace for the employee on leave.

Types of work during keeping in touch days

Keeping in touch days offer a range of acceptable activities designed to keep an employee connected to their workplace and help them successfully return from leave. Some examples of acceptable keeping in touch day activities include:

  • Training and development - keeping in touch days are perfect for employees to attend training sessions, workshops or conferences. This enables them to refresh existing skills or gain new knowledge that's directly applicable to their role.
  • Planning and strategy - participating in planning meetings or strategic discussions allows employees to remain aware of ongoing projects, upcoming changes and contribute to future directions within the company.
  • Transition focused tasks - employees may perform specific tasks within their usual position for a portion of the KIT day. This supports reorientation to help returning parents regain familiarity with their responsibilities.

The primary aim of KIT days is to ease the employee's reintegration into their position after parental leave. Any "transition back to work" activities should directly support this return by:

  • Updating the employee's knowledge of workplace practices or tools.
  • Allowing them to reconnect with colleagues and rebuild professional relationships.
  • Offering exposure to changes within team structures, roles or procedures.

It's important for employers to understand that certain activities fall outside the intended purpose of KIT days. Engaging in these activities could potentially impact an employee's eligibility for unpaid parental leave benefits.

These include resuming regular daily work duties that aren't explicitly tied to re-entry into the workplace, filling in for absent employees, performing paid work that doesn't focus on skill updates or workplace reorientation, or working for another employer altogether (which may result in the termination of unpaid parental leave).

Keeping in Touch Days - Employment Compass

Rules and restrictions of keeping in touch days

While keeping in touch days offer flexibility and benefits to employers and employees, there are specific rules to ensure these days serve their intended purpose of facilitating a smooth return to work after parental leave. This section outlines the key restrictions business owners should understand.

Employees on unpaid parental leave can access up to 10 KIT days per 12-month period. If an employee chooses to extend their maternity leave past 52 weeks, they are entitled to an additional 10 KIT days. Exceeding these limitations may be considered a return to work, potentially affecting parental leave entitlements.

It's important to highlight that keeping in touch days do not extend an employee's unpaid parental leave period. Even if keeping in touch days are utilised, the overall duration of the leave remains the same.

If an employee goes beyond the allowed number of KIT days, the government may interpret this as a return to work. In situations where Paid Parental Leave applies, this could result in the ending of those payments. Employers and employees should clearly understand this rule to avoid unwanted complications.

Pay for keeping in touch days

Employers have a responsibility to pay employees appropriately for keeping in touch days. During a KIT day, employees must receive their normal, full wage for the hours worked. This applies whether they work a partial day or a full day. For example, if an employee works four hours on a KIT day, they are entitled to four hours of pay at their standard hourly rate.

Employees continue to accrue annual leave, sick leave and other entitled leave types during a KIT day. This is because KIT days are treated like standard working days for the purposes of employment entitlements.

If an employee employees receiving government-funded Paid Parental Leave payments, KIT days can affect those payments. An employee can maintain their Paid Parental Leave status as long as the work performed on KIT days aligns with facilitating a smooth return to the workplace. Paid Parental Leave payments may be stopped if KIT day usage exceeds the permitted limits or if work activities fall outside the intended "keeping in touch" purpose.

Employers and employees need to have open communication about KIT days and their potential impact on Paid Parental Leave. Having a mutual understanding can prevent misunderstandings or issues further down the line.

If you need further advice on managing keeping in touch days and parental leave, Employment Compass can provide personalised assistance. Call our 24/7 Employer Assist Line today on 1300 144 002 for more information.

Frequently asked questions

Can I offer keeping in touch days to my employees on parental leave?

Yes, employers in Australia can offer keeping in touch (KIT) days to their employees who are on unpaid parental leave. KIT days provide flexibility for both employers and employees, facilitating a smoother transition back to work.

Am I required to offer keeping in touch days?

Employers are not legally obligated to offer KIT days. However, they provide tangible benefits by allowing employees to stay connected with the workplace and easing their return after an extended leave absence.

How many keeping in touch days can an employee take?

Employees on unpaid parental leave have access to up to 10 KIT days per each 12-month period of leave. If an employee extends their leave beyond 52 weeks, they are entitled to an additional 10 KIT days.

Can an employee use keeping in touch days during the first two weeks after birth or adoption?

No, there is a mandatory waiting period. An employee can only start using KIT days at least 42 days after the birth or adoption of a child. However, with mutual agreement between the employer and employee, KIT days can sometimes be initiated after 14 days.

Do I have to pay the employee their full wage for a keeping in touch day?

Yes, employers must pay employees their standard wage for any time worked on a KIT day, whether it's a few hours or a full shift. KIT days are treated like regular workdays in terms of pay and entitlements.

Will keeping in touch days affect an employee's unpaid parental leave period?

No, KIT days do not extend or shorten the duration of an employee's unpaid parental leave entitlement. Their purpose is to support a smooth return to work, not change the existing leave arrangements.

Have a question?

We're available 24/7. Call our Workplace Relations specialists now or contact us below.

Let's resolve your workplace question.

By submitting my contact details, I confirm that I have read and agree to the Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy. I consent to you contacting me about Employment Compass services.

Thank you

Thanks for reaching out. We will get back to you soon.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.