I've been on maternity leave for 7 months so still got another 2 months SMP but I want to leave my current employer and start a new job in a couple of weeks' time, without losing out on the SMP.
I think my options are:
(a) go self-employed for 6 weeks. I've read on the Dept Work & Pensions web site that "If you do any work in a self-employed capacity during your MPP, then such work will not affect your SMP." I guess I'd have to do a tax return for the tax year but does anyone know what other complications I might run into if I go self employed just for 6 weeks?
(b) work for the new employer voluntarily until I've officially left my current employer. The DWP web site says "SMP is not usually affected by voluntary work". Does anyone know what "usually" means?
I don't know who to ask. Do I ring HMRC? Or my Dad's accountant?
OK option A - You can't just decide to be self-employed. Self-employment is defined by a series of questions mainly about what your relationship is with the company paying you. If you will be doing a job for one company and all that changes after 6 weeks is you get paid through the payroll rather than with an invoice, then you are not self-employed for those first 6 weeks. Have a read here, at the bottom there is a list of questions to ask yourself to work out whether you are employed or self-employed. It's not about how you are paid.
Thinking about option B, unless your new employer will be paying you less than SMP, surely it would make more sense to work for them paid and lose the SMP than to work for them voluntarily?? Can't see any advantage in doing that tbh.
Will your new employer not defer your start date for a couple of months? Or make a one-off payment to you to compensate for the loss of your SMP?
I don't know to be honest with you. I can't find anything saying in what kind of situation voluntary work would affect SMP. I suspect they've put 'usually' in there to cover themselves just in case, rather than giving a blanket go-ahead to anyone trying to fiddle the system a bit.
I would expect 6 weeks working as a volunteer for a charity before being taken on by them permanently would be absolutely fine though.