Pregnancy is a gratifying time of life but calculating how much maternity pay you’ll get is not. Instead, it’s a complicated web of government rules to wade through. So, to make it easier (it’s hard enough lugging another human around in your belly for nine months) we’ve done the wading for you.
Statutory Maternity Pay a.k.a SMP
You only get this if you’re employed and qualify (we’ve detailed what this means below). While you’re on leave, your employer pays this into your bank account but it’s actually funded by the government.
Here’s the deal: From the day you take maternity leave, you’ll get 90% of your salary for the first 6 weeks and £140 a week for another 33 weeks. You can remain off work for another 13 weeks (making your total leave a year) but you won’t get any statutory pay for those last few months.
So what are the qualifying rules?
You have to have worked continuously from 41 to 15 weeks before your due date (translation: That’s from a few weeks before getting pregnant until around three months before the baby is born). You also have to have earned over £113 a week, on average.
Can employers ‘top-up’ maternity pay?
They can! And are VERY welcome to. A generous employer would top-up to give you six months’ full pay, while most top-up you up to three months’ full pay depending on how long you’ve worked for the company. Some don’t top up at all (boo, urns).
–If you’re planning a pregnancy, find out your company’s maternity scheme first and if there isn’t one negotiate this into your contract. Don’t be afraid to be upfront (in the most diplomatic way of course) because it’s totally illegal to fire you on the basis of planning maternity leave.
At least 15 weeks before the baby arrives, you have to tell your employer the due date and when you want to start your leave. Your start and end date must be confirmed but you can change the date you return to work as long as you give 8 weeks’ notice.
When it comes to getting paid, you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the date you want to start receiving statutory maternity pay –this is usually the same day you start your leave.
Sounds good but what if I’m self-employed?
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news…you won’t get Statutory Maternity Pay BUT there is a silver lining as you could get Maternity Allowance instead. It’s essentially a different word for the same thing as Maternity Pay but the rules and the amounts differ. This means for 39 weeks you could be paid £140 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less).
To be eligible you have to answer 'yes' to the following questions…
In the 66 weeks before your baby’s due will you:
- be self-employed for at least 26 weeks (this doesn't need to be in a row)?
- have paid Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 weeks (this also doesn't need to be in a row)?
- have earned at least £30 a week in 13 of those weeks (again, no need to be in a row)?
If you haven’t paid enough Class 2 National Insurance, you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks. It’s not much but at least it’s something!
Use this maternity calculator to find out how much you’re entitled to. Trust us, it’s super easy!
What’s Class 2 National Insurance?
You pay this if you’re self-employed and your profits are £6,025 or more a year. It costs you £2.85 a week. Most people pay this through their Self Assessment which, if you’re self-employed, you have to complete each year to calculate income tax owed to HMRC.
Need help from an Accountant? MOXI recommends Einstein Tax an honest, reliable and cost efficient Accountancy Firm.
How can I claim Maternity Allowance?
You can start your claim from the 26th week of your pregnancy by completing a claim form. The earliest you can be paid is 11 weeks before your baby is due (as long as you have stopped working!).
If you have any questions on maternity pay or any other money matter you can ASK MOXI.