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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Statutory Maternity Pay

To help you to take time off work before and after your baby is born, you may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is a weekly payment from your employer. Find out who can get SMP and how to claim.

Who can get SMP?

To qualify for SMP you must have been:

  • employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due (the qualifying week)
  • earning on average an amount which at least equals the lower earnings limit which applies on the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week

The lower earnings limit is the amount you have to earn before you are treated as paying National Insurance contributions. This is £107 a week if the end of your qualifying week is in the 2012-13 tax year.

If you have a visa that allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom you may be able to get SMP. If your visa includes the condition that you have “no recourse to public funds” you may still get SMP provided you satisfy the qualifying conditions. The qualifying conditions for SMP depend on your recent employment and earnings history. Because of this SMP does not constitute public funds.

Please read ‘Statutory Maternity Pay – eligibility’ for more information.

By completing a series of questions you will be given a personalised statement of your rights at work during pregnancy and birth. You may find this helpful before applying for SMP. To get a statement use the following link.

How to claim SMP

To make a claim for SMP, you must:

  • tell your employer when you want your SMP to start
  • provide medical evidence of the date your baby is due

Please read ‘Statutory Maternity Pay – how to claim’ for more information.

How much SMP do you get

If you qualify for SMP, it is paid:

  • for the first six weeks at 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings with no upper limit
  • for the remaining 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate of £135.45, or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings

Please read ‘Statutory Maternity Pay – how it is worked out’ for more information.

When is SMP paid

Your employer will usually pay you in the same way and at the same time as your normal wages. It can be paid for up to 39 weeks.

Please read ‘Statutory Maternity Pay – when do your payments start’ for more information.

What happens if you can't get SMP?

If you cannot get SMP your employer must fill in form SMP1 and give this to you. On the form, your employer must say why SMP has not been paid. If you have more than one employer, you must get form SMP1 from each employer.

Form SMP1 is used to support a claim for Maternity Allowance (MA). It is important that your employer give this form to you as soon as possible. Without the information on the form a decision on entitlement to MA cannot be made which may delay payment. There are two versions of the form SMP1. One you can print and then complete using a pen or one you can complete online and then print.

Circumstances that may affect your SMP

If you are already getting SMP there are circumstances that may affect your payments. The following examples provide more information.

If you return to work while receiving SMP

You can work up to ten days during your Maternity Pay Period (MPP) for the employer paying your SMP without losing your entitlement. These are called Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. Once you have worked for ten days and you do further work for that employer, you will lose SMP for each week in your MPP in which you do that work.

Please note, if you work your tenth KIT day and do a further day’s work in the same week, you will lose SMP for that week. This is because you will have exceeded the ten day maximum in that week. In the MPP, a week means any period of seven days. For example, if your SMP started on a Thursday, a week will run from Thursday to Wednesday.

If you start work with a new employer

If you start work with a new employer before your baby is born your SMP is not affected.

If you start work with a new employer after your baby is born (if you work for an employer who did not employ you in the 15th week before the week your baby was due) your SMP must stop. You must tell the employer paying you SMP.

If you start voluntary work

SMP is not usually affected by voluntary work.

If you go to live or visit abroad

Once you become entitled to or if you are already getting SMP and then go abroad, your employer must pay you SMP.

If you work outside the United Kingdom (UK) for a UK employer you may be able to get SMP if your employer pays NI contributions for you, or would pay if your earnings were high enough.

If you worked for a UK employer both in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK and actually worked in the UK in the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth you may get SMP even if your employer has not paid NI contributions for you.

If you go into hospital or care home

SMP is not affected if you go into hospital or care home.

If you are sent to prison or arrested

SMP will end, but you will be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA).

If you are sick at the end of your SMP

You may claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) from your employer, the normal rules for eligibility will apply.

If you’re not entitled to SSP, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance. Your employer will give you form SSP1 to explain why you are not entitled to SSP.

SMP if you are claiming benefits or tax credits

If you or your partner or civil partner are claiming benefits or tax credits, you may be able to get a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

If you receive SMP, you may claim Income Support to top up your income.

You can find more information about SMP and MA in the leaflet NI 17A 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits'.

If you become pregnant again

You may be entitled to SMP for your next child if you satisfy the eligibility rules. Please read ‘Statutory Maternity Pay – eligibility’ for more information.

SMP and insolvency

If your employer does not pay you SMP because they are insolvent, payment will be made by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They will only do this when your employer has been formally declared insolvent. HMRC will take over the payment from and including the week of insolvency. Any payments before that date must be paid by your employer.

If your employer is insolvent, you should phone the Statutory Payments Disputes Team on 0191 225 5221.

What else you need to know about SMP

Each time you get pregnant you must use the date your baby is due to work out your SMP for that pregnancy.

If you have more than one job, you may be able to get SMP from each employer.

If you disagree with the decision on your SMP

Ask your employer for a reason if you think:

  • their decision not to pay you SMP is wrong
  • you’re not getting the right amount of SMP

If you still disagree, you can phone the HMRC employee's enquiry line on 0845 302 1479 for advice.

Please read ‘Statutory payments - if you think your employer's decision is wrong' for more information.

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