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Maternity Allowance Advice

First off, CONGRATULATIONS, if you're reading this you're probably about to become a new parent, the most important job you'll ever do. Now starts the minefield of arranging maternity pay and leave.  We've gathered hints and tips here so that you don't have to spend hours trawling the internet for your maternity rights.

Maternity Pay Eligibility (SMP)

To qualify for SMP you must:

  • earn on average at least £116 a week

  • give the correct notice which is at least 28 days before you want your SMP to begin.  Your employer can ask for this in writing.

  • give proof you’re pregnant: a letter from your doctor or midwife, your MATB1 certificate - doctors and midwives will give you this no more than 20 weeks before the due date. You won’t get SMP if you don’t give your employer proof that the baby is due.

  • have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks continuing into the ‘qualifying week’ - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth

If your employer decides you’re not eligible, they must give you form SMP1 within 7 days of making their decision and explain why.

Maternity Leave Eligibility

You qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if:

  • you’re an employee

  • you give your employer the correct notice which is  at least 15 weeks before your due date

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with your employer, how many hours you work or how much you get paid.

How Much Maternity Pay Will You Get?

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks

  • For the next 33 weeks you'll get £145.18 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

There's an SMP calculater here to help you.

Sickness During Maternity Leave

If you wish to receive contractual sick pay, instead of your maternity pay, you will have to give eight weeks notice to end your maternity leave early and then follow your employer’s sickness procedures to receive contractual sick pay. Once you are well enough to work you will have to return to work as you cannot go back onto maternity leave and pay. Find out more here.

Self Employed Maternity Allowance

If you’re self-employed you can get the full amount of Maternity Allowance, you must have paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will check if you’ve paid enough when you make your claim. They’ll write to you if you haven’t.

If you haven’t paid enough Class 2 National Insurance to get the full rate (£145.18 a week), you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks. You still need to meet all the other eligibility criteria to get this amount.

You may be able to get the full rate by making early National Insurance payments. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will send you a letter to tell you how.

Find out more here.

Further Maternity Leave and Pay Support and Advice

Do you have a question about your maternity rights at work, benefits or entitlement to free NHS maternity care? Maternity Action has lots of online information about your rights, they even have information in Polish, Portuguese and Spanish

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