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Maternity Pay

05 April 2012

Posted by Lisa Wood

If you are pregnant, work full or part-time, and satisfy a few employment rules you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). 


Two women in park with babies and prams

To be entitled to SMP the following needs to apply to you:

  • You have worked continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week (which is the 15th week before the start of the week your baby is due). As a rough guide this works out at just before you got pregnant.
  • Your average earnings have been at least at the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £107 for tax year 2012/2013).  Average earnings are calculated using the qualifying week.
  • You have given your employer at least 28 days written notice of when you want your Statutory Maternity Pay to start.  You must also have given them the MAT B1 certificate that your midwife or doctor gave you at your 21 week appointment, but this should have been given to them already when you notified your employer of your pregnancy 15 weeks before the week of your due date.  See more about telling your employer in the Maternity Leave section.

How much will you get?

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid by employers for 39 out of a total possible 52 weeks of Maternity Leave. The first six weeks are paid at 90% of your average weekly earnings (as at the qualifying week), the remaining 33 weeks are paid at a maximum of the statutory rate of £135.45 per week (for tax year 2012/2013) or 90% of your average weekly earnings if they are lower.  The final 13 weeks of your Maternity Leave will be unpaid. 

SMP is subject to your usual Tax and National Insurance as it is regarded as replacement pay and not a benefit.

Your SMP can start any time from 11 weeks before the week your baby is due but no later than the day of your baby's birth.  Remember your six weeks at 90% of your salary starts as soon as you go on leave so you may want to delay starting your leave for as long as possible to have more time with your baby after the birth.

Our Understanding Maternity Pay video will guide you through your basic rights and how to work out your eligibility.

Other things to know

You should receive your SMP in the usual way and at the same time as your normal wages, your employer will make all the deductions for Tax and National Insurance in the same way.

If you leave your job or are made redundant after the start of the qualifying week then, assuming you qualify in the first place, your employer is still required to pay you Statutory Maternity Pay.  Payments can only start, in line with normal rules, at the 11th week before the week of your due date.

You can still claim SMP even if you do not intend to return to work after you have had your baby and you won't have to repay anything.

Some employers contract terms and conditions are more generous than statutory minimums so it's worth checking with them first before planning your time off with your baby.