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Freelancing while on Maternity Leave

(7 Posts)
MsF1t Mon 04-Jul-16 21:29:15

Hi- and advice would be greatly appreciated.

I have been made redundant while on Maternity Leave: I will be paid a lump sum, which will include an element of SMP. One of the people at HR mentioned that I should not start a new job until the leave period has ended, as it would be like working while on Jobseeker's Allowance undeclared.

My problem is this: I have recently helped someone out on a freelance basis (I haven't started the period covered by SMP yet), and it seems to have gone well. I have been recommended to other people. Ideally, I would like to be able to make a go of it, not only because I'm going to need the money and flexibility, but also because it has given me a much-needed confidence boost.

What do I do? I don't want to put off these potential new clients: nor do I want to find myself in deep doo-doo with the Government.

I was told, over the phone, a date towards the end of the year. I emailed a different person in Payroll to ask for a date, and they have responded, saying it would be August (I think). I don't think that the second person is correct- or at least the email is confusing- but... could this give me plausible deniability? As in, but I asked about this and was told I could work again from next month?

I have worked freelance before, but (unlike most people I know it seems) did everything by the book, even filing VAT returns even though I didn't really earn enough.

If I filed an annual one, to March from the later date, would that be legal or acceptable?

WWYD? Thanks in advance...

lookbeforeyouleap Mon 04-Jul-16 21:38:13

I was always lead to believe that self employed work doesn't affect maternity pay.

Stevie77 Tue 05-Jul-16 09:21:03

It depends on when you're due. I'm not sure how this works if you get SMP in a lump sum (can they pay you monthly? It's better for you as with a lump sum you'd pay tax and/or NI), but IIRC HMRC will count you as on mat leave from 11 weeks before your due date. Up until then you can work, after that no.

Best thing would be to speak to HMRC as they will be able to guide you.

johendy Tue 05-Jul-16 09:30:51

What is the date of your redundancy? Until that date, you are employed and under enjoyment restrictions per your contract, regardless of whether you're on maternity leave or actually working.

It sounds like they have enhanced your redundancy payout to include a sum based on what you would have recieved in SMP had you not been made redundant (they didn't have to do this). If this is the case, it has no impact on your date of redundancy and your ability to freelance.

Employers are required to give you a letter confirming your redundancy and the effective date. If you don't have this, then ask for it. Remember the redundancy date is related to you no longer being employed by them, it has nothing to do with smp or redundancy payment calculations.

MsF1t Tue 05-Jul-16 21:48:28

Thanks for you replies. The date of redundancy was the last day of June, or from the first July I suppose.

I had chosen to take leave for a year, from February: as I recall, the first 6 months were paid by my employer via Payroll. After this, it was to be paid by DWP, via Payroll. It sounds like I need to get hold of all my paperwork, though.

Clearly this sort of thing is not at all my strong suit- it just makes me want to run/stick my head in the sand!

johendy Wed 06-Jul-16 11:30:21

I think you'll be fine then. If you're already redundant, you've recieved all outstanding money from your employer and have no obligations to them. I think you might be eligible for maternity allowance, similar to smp but from the government directly not an employer. If you did recieve that, it might impact on your freelancing. Why don't you call ACAS for advice?

MsF1t Wed 06-Jul-16 17:23:31

Ah- that must be what they meant then: the MA bit. I understood that part of the lump sum I was getting on leaving was 'government money', and I've confused the names, I think. Will look into ACAS. Thanks!

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