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What maternity pay will I get?

There are two different types of maternity pay. Which you get depends on how long you’ve worked for your employer. They are both paid for 39 weeks.

Statutory Maternity Pay

You are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) as long as you started the job at least a week before you became pregnant and you earn over £102 a week before tax in 2011-12. (This is the lower earnings limit - it goes up slightly every April).

Young Woman In Cafe NewWith Statutory Maternity Pay, you get 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks. After that, you get £128.73 per week for 33 weeks in 2011-12. (If 90% of your average weekly earnings are less than this amount, you'll continue getting 90% of your earnings instead).

Many employers are more generous than the legal minimum; check your contract, staff handbook or office manual.

What do I need to do?

"I have two jobs. What do I do?"
If you have been working for them for long enough, you can get Statutory Maternity Pay for both. If you don't qualify for SMP, you will get Maternity Allowance (provided you meet the conditions).

SMP is paid by your employer, who then claims it back from HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs). You need to give your boss a form from your midwife (called the MATB1 form) at least 28 days before you want to start receiving your maternity pay. In practise, many women tell their boss in writing at the same time as telling them when you want to take your leave.
If your boss thinks you are not entitled to SMP but you think you are, you can ask HM Revenue and Customs to check it. If you aren’t entitled to SMP, your boss must give you a form called SMP1–you can use this to get maternity allowance (see below).

"I'm an agency worker - what do I get?"
You will be entitled to SMP if you meet the conditions above. Your employer is usually the agency.

What if I don't want to go back?

You are entitled to the money even if you don't plan to return to work. However, if your employer is going to pay you more than the statutory maternity pay, you can be asked to repay the extra if you don’t go back (if it was in your contract or you had agreed it with your boss).

Maternity Allowance

"I'm on a short-term contract. What do I do?"
If you will still be employed on your due date, you will be entitled to SMP, provided you meet the conditions above. If it is not certain whether you will still be employed on your due date, get advice. See How to find an adviser.

If you aren’t entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, you'll be entitled to Maternity Allowance if:

  • you have worked for 26 weeks in the last 66 weeks. (This could be in lots of different chunks or for different employers. It can include self-employed work); and
  • you earned more than £30 for 13 of those weeks. (You can choose the weeks when you’ve earned the most, combine wages from different jobs, and it can include overtime, bonuses, or sick pay).

Maternity Allowance gives you £128.73 each in 2011-2012 or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less. You may get an additional amount for your husband, civil partner, or someone else who looks after your children, if that person is on a very low income.

What do I need to do to get it?

"I've just started here. What do I do?"
If you were pregnant before you started the job, you won't be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, but you will be entitled to maternity leave and will probably get Maternity Allowance (see below to check you meet the conditions).

Maternity Allowance is paid by Jobcentre Plus. To claim it, download form MA1 from the Jobcentre Plus website at www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk and give it to your local benefits office. You can do this at any time after your 26th week of pregnancy. You will need to give them medical evidence of your pregnancy, usually your maternity certificate (MATB1). If you have a job, you will also have to get form SMP1 from your employer to confirm that you aren't entitled to SMP.

When do I get it?

You get Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks. The earliest they can start to be paid is the 11th week before your baby is due. The latest it can start is just after your baby is born. If you are not working, there are rules about when your Maternity Allowance has to start being paid. If you are late claiming, you may be able to get some of the money backdated, get advice - see How to find an adviser .

"I'm self-employed - what do I get?"
If you are self-employed, you won't be entitled to statutory maternity pay, but you will be entitled to maternity allowance if:

  • you have worked for 26 weeks in the last 66 weeks (either for yourself or an employer); and
  • you have 13 weeks where you have paid Class 2 NI contributions or held a certificate of small earnings exemption.

If you have got 13 weeks of Class 2 NI contributions, you are entitled to the full amount of £128.73. If you have the certificate, you will be entitled to £27 per week.

If you own a limited company and pay yourself through PAYE, you will qualify for SMP if you meet the conditions.

April 2011

Get advice

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