I've just found out I'm pregnant with #2 and so I'm currently looking into maternity rights. With DC1 I worked full time on a manager's salary so automatically qualified for SMP, however I now only work 16 hours a week on minimum wage, so I know I won't qualify for SMP (as I don't pay any NI) but should qualify for maternity allowance. However, when I was looking into maternity allowance on the direct gov website it seemed to suggest that if I registered as self-employed and paid Class 2 contributions (of just £2.50 a week) for 26 weeks before my due date, I would then qualify for the full maternity allowance of £128.73 regardless of how much I actually earned (see below copied from the Dept for work and pensions website)
If you are self-employed and do not have a small earnings exception certificate, for any week covered by a Class 2 NI contribution you will be treated as having enough earnings to result in the standard rate of MA, payable at the end of the week covered by a Class 2 NI contribution. This means that:
From 6 April 2009 treated as earning £136.73 From 12 April 2010 treated as earning £138.75 From 11 April 2011 treated as earning £143.03
So in theory I could register self-employed (I've done mystery shopping before which you have to be registered self employed for so could just put that down again), not actually do any work but still pay class 2 contributions and then when I fill in my maternity allowance application form, don't actually claim on the basis of my current employment only on my self-employed status and I'd receive full maternity pay?! Surely that can't be right?!
Seriously, that's ridiculous?! So in theory I could not work at all, just pay my £2.50 a week and then claim standard maternity allowance so in effect being paid to have children?! No wonder the government's in so much debt!
Who is eligible? You might get Maternity Allowance if: you're employed, but not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay you're registered self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs), or hold a Small Earnings Exception certificate you have very recently been employed or self-employed You may be eligible if: you've been employed and/or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in your 'test period' (66 weeks up to and including the week before the week your baby is due) - part weeks count as full weeks you earned £30 a week averaged over any 13 weeks in your test period
Well, I'm going to go for it and see what happens, if it doesn't work out I should still get MA of 90% of my current earnings which is fine by me. Plus I'd rather keep paying national insurance anyway just from a pension and ESA point of view, it seems silly that you can't opt into paying NI if you're employed but earning below the minimum threshold anyway.