Useful information on statutory maternity pay (SMP) and maternity allowance (MA) and advice on your entitlement to each.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
You are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) if you have been in the same job for at least 26 weeks and by the 15th week before your baby is due, and you earn at least an average of £95 per week before tax.
What is Statutory Maternity Pay?
As of 1st April 2007 SMP is for 39 weeks. Your employer pays it to you and then claims most or all of it back from the Inland Revenue. You can get it even if you don't plan to go back to work. You do not have to pay SMP back if you don't return to work.
Who can get SMP?
You get SMP if:
How much SMP will I get?
- You have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (which is approximately the 26th week of pregnancy). In other words you need to have started the job before you got pregnant, and you are still in your job in the 15th week before your baby is due - even if it's only for one day that week - or you are off sick or on holiday, and you actually receive at least £102.00 (before tax) per week in earnings, on average the eight weeks (if you are paid weekly) or two months (if you are paid monthly) up to the last pay day before the end of the 15th week before your baby is due.
- To get SMP you must give the correct notice to your employer. If you are not sure if you're entitled to SMP ask anyway. Your employer will work out whether or not you should get it and if you don't qualify they will give you form SMP I to explain why.
SMP is paid at two rates:
When can I get SMP?
- For the first six weeks you get 90% of your average earnings. The average is calculated from the pay you actually received in the eight weeks or two months up to the last pay day before the end of the qualifying week (i.e. the 15th week before your due date).
- You will then get up to £128.73 per week for the remaining 33 weeks, or 90% of your average earnings if this is less. Your employer pays your SMP in the same way as your salary is paid. They deduct any tax and National Insurance contributions.
As with maternity leave, the earliest you can start your SMP is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. You can work right up until the date the baby is born, unless:
Do I still get SMP if my job ends after the 15th week before my baby is due?
- you have a pregnancy-related illness/absence in the last 4 weeks of your pregnancy or
- your baby is born before you have started your maternity leave.
SMP usually starts on the Sunday after you go on maternity leave. So if your last day of work is a Friday or Saturday it will start immediately. If your maternity leave and pay is triggered by one of the reasons above, your SMP will start as follows:
- if you are off sick with a pregnancy-related illness in the last four weeks of pregnancy, your SMP will start on the day after your first day of absence from work. So. if you phone in sick on a Wednesday, your SMP will start on Thursday.
- if you give birth before the start of your maternity leave, your SMP will start on the day following the actual date of birth.
- You cannot get any SMP for any week in which you work - even part of a week. So. if your SMP is triggered midweek by one of the reasons above you will start to receive it in the week following the week you stopped work and if you return to work early your SMP will stop.
You can still get SMP as long as you are employed in the 15th week before your baby is due and you meet the normal qualifying conditions stated above. It doesn't matter if you are off sick or on holiday that week. Once you have qualified for SMP you are entitled to receive it for the full 26 weeks. This is true even if you are made redundant, you leave your job or a fixed term contract comes to an end at any time after the 15th week before your baby is due or during your maternity leave. Remember SMP is not repayable if you are not going back to work and your employer can claim back all or most of it from the Inland Revenue regardless.
My employer gives extra maternity pay. Do I have to repay it if I don't go back to work?
If your employer has given you extra (contractual) maternity pay you only have to repay it if that was agreed in advance or specifically stated in your maternity policy. You only ever have to repay the extra contractual pay, never the SMP part of your maternity pay. SMP is 90% of your wages for 6 weeks and £128.73 per week for the remaining weeks (or 90% of your average earnings if this is less) and is yours to keep whether you go back or not.
Maternity Allowance (MA)
What is it?
- you can get it if you have changed jobs during pregnancy or
- you do not earn enough to get SMP or
- you are unemployed or self-employed during pregnancy.
Maternity Allowance (MA) is paid for 39 weeks. You may qualify for it if you do not qualify for SMP from your employer, for example, because you started a new job when you were already pregnant, your earnings are too low or you are self-employed.
You can claim standard-rate MA if:
- you have worked for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, and you can find 13 weeks (not necessarily in a row) in which you earned over £30 per week on average.
You should choose the weeks in which you earned the most. You can add together earnings from more than one job. If in doubt, ask your local Jobcentre Plus for form MAI and make a claim. They will work out whether you can get the benefit. If you are not entitled to MA. they should automatically use the same claim form to check whether you can get Incapacity Benefit instead.
The earliest you can claim MA is 15 weeks before your baby is due and the earliest it can be paid to you is 11 weeks before you are due. You should put in your claim form as early as possible and notify the Jobcentre Plus of the date you intend to stop work.
How much it Maternity Allowance?
There are two rates:
Incapacity Benefit (IB)
- Standard-rate MA is £128.73 per week for 39 weeks.
- 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings, if this calculation results in a figure which is less than the standard rate of MA.
If you do not qualify for Maternity Allowance but have paid some National Insurance contributions during the last three years, but not many recently.
What is incapacity benefit?
A weekly allowance which can be paid to women who don't qualify for SMP or Maternity Allowance. It is also possible to get IB if you are incapable of working because of illness or disability.
Who gets incapacity benefit?
You get IB if you have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions during the last three tax years that do not overlap the current calendar year. Your Jobcentre Plus will work out whether you can get the benefit. If in doubt, claim
To claim IB. use the claim form for Maternity Allowance (MA I from the Jobcentre Plus) If you are not entitled to MA. the Jobcentre Plus should check automatically to see if you can get IB.
How much do I get?
It is from £71.10 per week from six weeks before your baby is due until two weeks after your baby is born.
For more information on maternity pay Click Here