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Maternity Pay: What you need to know

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Congratulations you’re pregnant!

You have shared your news with family and friends, pinned the scan picture up on the fridge and are ready to tell your employers that you are expecting a baby. For many mums, this can be quite a daunting prospect and while the thought of being off work with your little one for up to a year is the perfect start to motherhood, understanding your maternity pay and planning your time off can be stressful . So understand what your maternity pay means to your finances and then enjoy your pregnancy!

Maternity pay as a company employee

If you are an employee and have given your employer at least 15 weeks notice, then you will be entitled to maternity leave, regardless of how long you have worked there or how much you earn. Your employer will want to see proof you’re pregnant, meaning a letter or MATB1 certificate from your midwife or doctor (no, unfortunately your pregnancy test or growing bump doesn’t count as proof). If you want to claim Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) you can then advise them in writing, giving 28 days notice along with the proof you are pregnant. Once you have provided all of this, your employer should then write to you within 28 days advising you of your maternity leave start and end dates and any SMP you may be entitled to.

Maternity pay, know your rightsIn order to claim SMP from your employers, you must have worked for them continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the qualifying date of your pregnancy, which is 15 weeks before your due date. You must provide proof you are pregnant, have given them the correct notice and earn on average at least £109 per week.  Don’t worry if you don’t meet all these criteria; you may have just started a new job and found out you’re pregnant, be on a short term contract or perhaps are self employed? If you don’t qualify for SMP, your employer will write to you to explain why and provide you with a SMP1 form and you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead.

SMP and Maternity Allowance

Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance are different amounts, but both will pay you up to 39 weeks and both can start 11 weeks prior to your due date. If you claim SMP, you will get 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks and then £136.78 (or 90% of your average weekly earnings if that is lower) for the next 33 weeks. It is paid as part of your usual wage packet and you are charged tax and national insurance as normal. Maternity Allowance is still paid for 39 weeks but at the standard rate of £136.78 or 90% of your average weekly earnings if that is lower.  Regardless of what pay are entitled to, everyone can take up to 52 weeks off maternity leave. You can take less but you must have a minimum of 2 weeks off (or 4 weeks for factory workers) once your baby is born. You can tell your employers you will take the full 52 weeks and then change your mind, as long as you give them 8 weeks notice, the is perfectly acceptable.

You still have employee rights

Remember, even when you are on maternity leave, you are still entitled to the same opportunities as other employees, such as pay rises and promotions, you can also get paid for your accrued annual leave,  so having a baby no longer means you are missing out.

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About Rebecca Robinson

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About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

Website: Rebecca Robinson

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