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Maternity Pay: Your rights explained

Posted in: Finance Date added: 15 Jun 2015

If you’re struggling to get your head around Maternity Pay, fear not. We’ve boiled down all the key points on your eligibility rights, the amount you’ll receive and other useful information. 

Am I eligible?

To qualify for Maternity Pay, you’ll need to have:

  • Worked continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by what’s known as the  qualifying week (this is 15 weeks from your baby’s due date.)
  • Gross earnings of at least £112 in an eight week relevant period (for tax year 2015-2016). Average earnings are calculated using the qualifying week.
  • Given your employer at least 15 days written notice of when you want your Statutory Maternity Pay to start. Our Maternity Leave section explains this in a little more detail.

How much will I get?

Employers will pay Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 out of a total possible 52 weeks of Maternity Leave. For the first six weeks, you’ll receive 90% of your average weekly earnings. For the remainder of the leave you’ll receive either £139.58 per week (for tax year 2015-/2016) or 90% of your average weekly earnings - if that’s 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 seen as replacement pay and not a benefit.

The earliest your SMP can start is 11 weeks before the week your baby is due but no later than the day of your baby's birth. Remember that 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 so that you can have more time with your baby after the birth.

Our Understanding Maternity Pay video will guide you through your basic rights and show you 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’ve had your baby and you won't have to repay anything.

You’ll find that 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.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Hub content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions. OneFamily do not provide advice so it may be worth speaking to an independent financial advisor about your own circumstances.