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Statutory Maternity Pay

Key information

A weekly payment for women who are on maternity leave from work.

Applies to: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Age rules: There are no specific age rules

Type of benefit: Non means tested

Taxable: Yes

Administered by: Your employer

 

Index

You can read through this information sheet, or go directly to the sections you want to read by clicking on these links:

Who does it help?
What help does it provide?
How much does it pay?
How do I make a claim?
What documents will I need?
Challenging decisions
Change of circumstance

Who does it help?

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) you must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the time you are 15 weeks away from the date your baby is due. It does not matter how many hours a week you work.

You also need to earn more than £111 a week.

The rules about Statutory Maternity Pay apply to almost all women employees but there are exceptions, for example, women who work mainly overseas or who are share fisherwomen. If your working situation is unusual, find an adviser and ask whether you qualify.

If you do not qualify for SMP, you might qualify for:

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What help does it provide?

Your employer pays SMP in the same way and at the same time as your wages are normally paid, for example, weekly or monthly. Your employer then claims the money back from the Government. You do not have to pay back any SMP if you do not return to work.

SMP lasts for 39 weeks. You and your partner may be able to share leave and pay. If you don't use up all your statutory maternity leave and pay, and you go back to work, your partner may be able to take the remainder of the leave and claim your remaining statutory pay to look after your child.

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How much does it pay?

SMP is paid at two different rates. During the first six weeks of your maternity leave, you will get 90% of your normal gross weekly pay. For the rest of your maternity leave, you will get £138.18 or 90% of your pay if that is less than £136.78.

Remember, your employment contract might give you more maternity pay on top of SMP.

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How do I make a claim?

To claim SMP, you must tell your employer that you are pregnant and will be off work because of the birth. You must tell them 28 days before you decide to start maternity leave. Your employer may need you to tell them in writing.

The earliest that you can start your maternity leave, and therefore start getting SMP, is the 11th week before the baby is due. The latest you can start your maternity leave, and therefore start getting SMP, is the week after the week when the baby is born. You can choose when you want your SMP to start within this period, unless you are sick.

If you are sick with a pregnancy-related illness in the six weeks before your baby is due, your SMP will start the week following the week you become sick. If you are sick with a non-pregnancy related illness, you can claim Statutory Sick Pay until the week the baby is due.

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What documents will I need?

When you tell your employer that you will be off work because of your pregnancy, they will want to see a medical certificate (a MATB1). Your doctor or midwife will issue this certificate no earlier than 20 weeks before your baby is due.

Challenging decisions

If you disagree with a SMP decision made by your employer, you can contact HM Revenue and Customs Statutory Payments Disputes Team. This may affect your job and your relationship with your employer so you may want to seek specialist advice on this matter first.

Further information on Challenges and complaints

Change of circumstance

You must notify your employer of any change in your circumstances that may affect your entitlement to this benefit.

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Last updated: 7 April 2014

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