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If you are an employee you may be able to get statutory maternity pay (SMP) from your employer when you stop work to have your baby.

You will not have to repay it if you do not return to work.

You qualify if:

  • You have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week (the 'qualifying week') before the week the baby is due; and
  • You are still in your job in the qualifying week (it doesn't matter if you are off work sick or on holiday); and
  • Your average earnings are at least £118 a week; and
  • You give your employer the right notice (see below).

How much do you get?

SMP is paid by your employer and is paid up to a maximum of 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks you get 90% of your average weekly earnings (with no upper limit). The average is calculated from your gross earnings in the 8 weeks, if weekly paid, or 2 months, if monthly paid, before the end of the 15th week before the baby is due. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the standard rate of £148.68, or 90% of your average weekly earnings if this calculation results in a figure that is less than £148.68.

You may have to pay tax and National Insurance contributions out of your SMP.

When is it paid?

SMP can start from the 11th week before the week in which the baby is due. You decide when you stop work and start your maternity pay period. You can work right up until the baby's birth.

If your baby is born early (i.e. prior to the 11th week before it is due), your SMP will start the day following the birth.

You must tell your employer at least 28 days before the date you want to start your SMP. Send your maternity certificate (form MAT B1), which your doctor or midwife will give you when you are about 21 weeks pregnant. Tell your employer as soon as is reasonably practicable if your baby is born early.

If you are not eligible for SMP, your employer must give you form SMP1 within 7 days. You may be eligible for maternity allowance.

SMP works in a similar way to statutory sick pay, so you have the right to ask your employer for a written statement about your SMP position. If you disagree, you can refer your case to HM Revenue & Customs Statutory Payments Disputes Team office for a decision. If the HM Revenue & Customs decides against you, you can appeal to a first-tier Tribunal (Finance and Tax Chamber). Your employer can also appeal.


If you cannot get statutory maternity pay, you may qualify for tax-free maternity allowance (MA).

To qualify, you must have been employed or self-employed, in at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the week in which the baby is due, and earned an average of at least £30 a week for any 13 weeks in this test period.

You could get either:

  • £148.68 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, which ever is less for up to 39 weeks
  • £27.00 per week for up to 14 weeks

If you are self employed and have paid 13 Class 2 National Insurance contributions in your test period you will be treated as having earnings sufficient to result in the full weekly payment of MA.

To check your eligibility to MA, you can use the Maternity Entitlement Calculator.

When is it paid?

MA is paid for up to 39 weeks and can start from 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. If you are employed or self-employed, you may delay the start of your MA up until the baby's birth.

However, if you are not employed, your MA will start from the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.

How do you claim?

Fill in claim form MA1 and send it to Jobcentre Plus together with proof of income, your maternity certificate (MAT B1) and form SMP1 if you have it.

Claim forms can be downloaded here or you can call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888).

Send in form MA1 as soon as you can after you are 26 weeks pregnant. Don't delay because you are waiting for MAT B1 or SMP1. You can send them later. If you claim more than 3 months after the start of your MA period you may lose money.

If you are not entitled to MA, the Jobcentre Plus should check if you can get Employment and Support Allowance instead.


If you are entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave, you may also be entitled to statutory paternity pay (SPP). You can get this if you have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due and have average earnings of at least £112 a week. If the child is adopted you must remain in employment until he/she is placed with you for adoption.

It is paid by employers for up to 2 weeks. You must give your employer at least 28 days (or as soon as reasonably practicable) notice of the date you want your SPP to start. You can use form SC3 to notify your employer.

If you can't get SPP your employer must give you a form SPP1 explaining why you don't qualify. You may be able to claim income support during paternity leave.


If you get certain means tested benefits, you may qualify for the £500 Sure Start maternity grant from the social fund. See 'Social Fund'.




DIAL Disclaimer
Whilst all the information given in this document was correct at the time of going to press, DIAL Doncaster cannot be held responsible for any subsequent changes.

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