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Maternity allowance and self employment - documentation?

(10 Posts)
glitterglitters Mon 03-Apr-17 17:32:14

Hiya,

I'm 27 weeks pregnant and I've been self employed for just under a year now. I've got a couple of questions about maternity allowance etc that I wondered if people could answer.

First of all, the "test period" for money how is that worked out? Being self employed I work pretty regularly but payments can be sporadic. For example I just received payment for 20 separate "jobs" in one hit. If you divide this by the test period weeks then I'm on the higher threshold but what if I don't receive any other payments for a while. My money is pretty regular in terms of I do say 2x jobs a week but I won't necessarily get paid them week to week etc.

Secondly, as I'm paid by BACS into my account (which is also my personal account as it's only a small undertaking) what documentation will I need to send. I don't have payslips etc like a normal person would.

MHbl Thu 06-Apr-17 13:13:04

Hi there glitter

I'm also self employed (for about 5 years now) and this will be my first baby. I also had a bit of trouble getting my head around maternity allowance as, whilst my work has generally been fairly regular, I have chosen to work a lot less in the last 12 months due to undergoing IVF and giving me and my baby the best possible chance when I have managed to sustain this pregnancy (22 weeks and counting, eek!).

Have you had a look at this DWP document on the government website?

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/520765/ma1-print_.pdf

I found it helpful to understand how the Test Period is calculated etc. Page 10 in particular, plus the schedules after page 18, are particularly relevant to those of us seeking to claim Maternity Allowance as we're self employed (as opposed to claiming MA because you're not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay from any employer, despite being an employee).

I'm too early to submit my claim yet, but my understanding is that even though my earnings are a bit sporadic this year, I will be treated as having earnings as £30 a week in the relevant Test Period (see the schedule of the doc for your Test Period) because I have made at least 13 Class 2 NI contributions in the Test Period. This is how I understand the guidance on page 10 of the doc.

I think if you're properly registered as self employed with HMRC, it's actually a lot easier than first appears when you read all the stuff. They'll be able to see when you registered as self employed (to see if you qualify for the lower rate of MA) and if you've paid the requisite amount of Class 2 NICs to qualify for the higher standard rate of MA.

At least I think that's how it works! I rang up the HMRC on 0300 200 3300 to chat it through as I also found the info confusing, and found them to be very helpful. I think even if you've not paid enough Class 2 NICs in the Test period to get the standard rate, HMRC give you the opportunity to pay those contributions with an in-year NICs bill so you can claim the full whack. This is what I was told on the phone and what the MA1 application form seems to say in the self-employed section.

In terms of documentation, my understanding is that for the self-employed, you only need to send the form MAT B1 that your midwife/hospital will provide (I got mine when I had a hospital appointment with the consultant after my 20 week scan, which was actually at 21 weeks). I don't anticipate needing to send bank statements etc to prove payment as it looks like I'll be deemed to have the requisite earnings under page 10 of the guidance.

I hope this helps! We shall see when I come to put in my own application next month :-) If in doubt though, just call HMRC to chat it through. It turned out much simpler than I'd imagined!

Brugmansia Thu 06-Apr-17 13:27:14

If you need some guidance it may be worth calling Maternity Action's helpline. They know a lot about maternity allowance and may be able to talk you through some of your queries.
www.maternityaction.org.uk/advice-2/advice-line/

glitterglitters Thu 06-Apr-17 16:03:12

Thanks guys! I spoke to the HMRC @MHbl and you won't need to send any proof as such, they'll just send you a bill for the 13 weeks of £2.80 during your test period (so £36.40). You pay that and you'll receive the full £140.98 per week.

You can also work ten Keeping In Touch days in your maternity period without affecting the maternity allowance. So I can maintain one of my biggest clients a day a month, whilst also still being able to dedicate the majority of time to my new baby which is brilliant. 👍🏼🙌🏼👌🏼

Hope this helps other people. I was panicking I'd have to print off reams of my bank statements. Maybe a separate account after maternity 🙈

arbrighton Thu 06-Apr-17 16:09:26

Thanks to MHBl and glitterglitters for confirming what I still need to do with my MA form.

MHbl Thu 06-Apr-17 16:49:38

Ah brilliant, glitter ! That's in line with what I thought, phew! They do make it sound unnecessarily complicated though...

Thanks also for mentioning the Keeping In Touch days as well, that may well be relevant for me too.

Good luck with your pregnancy! :-)

arbrighton Thu 06-Apr-17 17:33:05

KITs aren't for me sadly- I'm a private tutor so I'm either doing it or not doing it :/

honeysucklejasmine Thu 06-Apr-17 22:06:56

Ooh, maybe you can all help me. I am self employed but haven't earned since January 2016. My DD was born in Feb 2016 and i haven't gone back. I am still registered as self employed and fill in self assessments. (I am a tutor so it's good to be able to pick up odd bits here and there, although i haven't)

I didn't earn enough in 2015/16 to need to pay anything (including NICs) and i haven't earned anything in 2016/2017 as my only income was MA and now just child benefit. I declined to make voluntary contributions in 15/16.

DC #2 is due in October. As i understood it, as i haven't earned anything in the 62 odd weeks (or whatever it is) before due date, i wont qualify for anything at all? The most i could see was maybe £30 a week for a few weeks, but it wasn't worthwhile back paying NICs to qualify.

Is that right? Will try to ring HMRC in morning but they weren't V knowledgeable about this when i rang in January before submitting 15/16 SA.

Any help gratefully received.

glitterglitters Fri 07-Apr-17 08:24:55

Hi @honeysucklejasmine it's my understanding you can up your voluntary contributions to receive the full amount but I think you have to have at least been receiving the equivalent to £30 per week (or that equivalent) for the criteria weeks.

If you apply for MA and see what they say? The forms aren't too complex and they'll be able to help you out.

glitterglitters Fri 07-Apr-17 08:26:17

And that's such a pain @arbrighton. I find it slightly irritating that if you're an employee on smp you can do as much self employed work as you like during maternity leave but I guess as self employed we're more established in our fields etc.

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