If an employee intends to return early from maternity leave, are they required to inform the employer?

Yes. If an employee on maternity leave intends to return early they must give the employer eight weeks' notice of their proposed return date. If they fail to do so, the employer may delay the employee's return by up to eight weeks, although it may not do so beyond the date when the maternity leave would otherwise have ended.

The exception to this is where the employer failed to comply with the requirement to inform the employee in writing of the date on which the additional maternity leave period would end, within 28 days of the employee giving notice of their intention to take maternity leave. In those circumstances, the employee does not have to give notice of their intention to return to work early, and the employer has no right to delay their return or to withhold their pay where they return early.