Maternity Leave, Pay and Allowance
Maternity Leave and Pay
Statutory Maternity Leave
Statutory Maternity Leave can be up to 52 weeks. To qualify for maternity leave you must be an employee.
Statutory Maternity Pay
Provided that an employee has completed 26 weeks’ continuous service with her employer by the 15th week before her expected week of childbirth, she will be eligible to receive Statutory Maternity Pay during maternity leave.
Although the length of service is the key determining factor; an employee must meet certain other prerequisites in order to qualify to receive Statutory Maternity Pay:
- The employee must give at least 28 days’ notice of her maternity leave unless she has a good reason for not doing so;
- An MATB1 form must have been submitted by the employee; and
- The employee must have had average weekly earnings over the lower earnings limit in the relevant period.
Statutory Maternity Pay is available for a maximum of 39 weeks of an employee’s maternity leave.
An employee will be ineligible for Statutory Maternity Pay in any of the following circumstances:
- She has not been employed for long enough;
- Her earnings are too low;
- She did not provide sufficient notice of her maternity leave;
- She failed to supply the required medical evidence (MATB1) on time;
- She did not inform her employer that her baby had been born within 4 weeks of the date of birth;
- She was in legal custody at the beginning of her maternity pay period; or
- She started work with another employer after the birth.
If an employee is not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay for any reason, she may be entitled to Maternity Allowance. An employer should supply employees with a maternity allowance form SMP1 which should then be taken to a Jobcentre Plus in order to claim Maternity Allowance. This form may be downloaded in PDF format from the DWP.
Maternity Allowance may be available if you:
- are employed;
- are self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance (NI) contributions;
- have a Small Earnings Exception certificate; or
- are not employed but have worked close to or during your pregnancy
The three latter provisions apply retrospectively and are valid reasons for ceasing payment of Statutory Maternity Pay once it has commenced.
Maternity Allowance is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks.
Employers must continue to pay usual contributions into any relevant occupational pension schemes for the period that the employee receives any Statutory Maternity Pay or contractual maternity pay.
The standard rate of statutory maternity pay (“SMP”) is set by the Government and may be subject to an increase in April of each year. Please refer to the HMRC website for the latest rate of SMP.