I was made redundant just before I got pregnant. I started looking into making and selling jewellery online and registered self employed as soon as I started doing research. I started paying NI contributions in week 11 of my pregnancy even though I was not yet earning as I wanted to keep them going as far as possible. I have, to date, earnt some money, will certainly average over £30pw to satisfy the threshold but this is where I am confused...
In some places I look it seems to imply that I can start my 26 week qualifying period any time after I started paying NI contributions, even if I was not earning, and that simply having paid them will qualify me for full maternity allowance. In others, it seems that my earnings will still be worked out and I will receive MA or 90% of my earnings, whichever is lower.
I have checked the directgov website and HMRC and am none the wiser. Can anyone clarify this for me? I don't really mind how much I get, I just need to know whether my NI paid weeks will qualify, even though my business was not quite up and running, and also how much to budget before baby arrives (due feb)!
I think you qualify for MA if you've paid them, but you will only get 90% of your earnings in the qualifying period. Can you find a period when your outgoings were zero and your income was at its highest? I may be wrong, but I remember being pleased that 90% of my earnings was more than MA so I'd at least get MA.
What is confusing you is that you can get MA either as a self employed person or (if you are not eligible for SMP) if you are employed, but the eligibility criteria and rate calculations are different. Even the best source of information (the DWP publication NI17a) mixes the two together, so you have to double check whether the bit you are reading applies to employment, self-employment or both.
Anyway, if you are self employed and have paid Class 2 NI contributions for 26 weeks you qualify for the full rate of MA (£128.73 for up to 39 weeks). You don't have to have earned a penny (you can even have been making a loss, as many SE people do in their first six months).