Maternity Allowance is money paid to some pregnant women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay from their employer because, for example:
• they have recently stopped work to have the baby, or
• they do not earn enough money.
Self-employed women may also get Maternity Allowance.
You must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks of the test period (66 weeks up to and including the week before your baby is due). It does not matter if these weeks are split up, or if they are not all for the same employer.
You must also have earned £30 a week averaged over any 13 weeks in your test period.
You can claim at any time once you are 26 weeks pregnant.
If you do not qualify for Maternity Allowance, you might qualify for Lower rate Maternity Allowance
Lower rate Maternity Allowance
If you help your partner run their own business, you might be able to get a new lower rate of Maternity Allowance.
To qualify you must not be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher rate of Maternity Allowance for the same pregnancy, and for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due, you must:
• be married or in a civil partnership with someone who is self-employed
• not be employed or self-employed yourself
• take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
• not be paid for the work you do for the business
Your spouse or civil partner must be registered as self-employed with HMRC and should pay Class 2 National Insurance.
Changes to the collection of Class 2 National Insurance contributions for the self-employed
Payment of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs) for 6 April 2015 onwards will be collected as part of the Self Assessment process from April 2016 by HMRC.
As a result, If you are a self-employed woman expecting a baby on or after 12 July 2015 and you have made a claim for Maternity Allowance you may have insufficient NICs to allow entitlement to the standard rate of Maternity Allowance on the date of your claim.
However, if you satisfy the work test you will receive a lower rate and have the option of paying sufficient Class 2 NICs, to be entitled to the standard rate.
For information relating to the NICs changes and Statutory Maternity Pay contact HM Revenue & Customs Helpline on 0300 200 3500.
For further information see Gov.UK Maternity Benefits Guidance