Can an employer make provision for repayment of contractual maternity pay should an employee not return to work for a certain period after her leave?

Yes, an employer can require an employee to repay the whole or part of her contractual maternity pay if she does not return to work for a minimum period after her maternity leave has ended. However, the employer cannot require her to repay the part of her pay that relates to statutory maternity pay or pension contributions. The requirement to repay must have been either agreed in writing in advance or included in the employee's contract of employment. It is good practice for the employer to draw the employee's attention to this condition in writing, prior to the commencement of maternity leave.

The employer should consider allowing the employee to repay the contractual maternity pay in a series of agreed instalments if repayment of one lump sum would cause her financial difficulty.