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

No. Employees are entitled to take a total of 52 weeks' maternity leave, comprising 26 weeks' ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks' additional maternity leave. Provided that she complies with the notice requirements for commencing maternity leave, an employee can choose when she starts her 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 the employee wishes to return to work earlier than the end of her maternity leave period she can choose the date of her early return provided that she gives her employer at least eight weeks' notice.