Can an employer insist that an employee return to work from maternity leave on a particular day of the week?

No. Provided that they comply with the notice requirements for commencing maternity leave, employees can choose when they start their maternity leave (so long as this is no earlier than the beginning of the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth). The start date of maternity leave will normally dictate the due date of return, which will be the day following the expiry of the 52-week maternity leave period.

If an employee wishes to return to work earlier than the end of their maternity leave period, they can choose the date of their early return provided that they give their employer at least eight weeks' notice.