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Maternity pay will help keep you afloat financially while you're off work towards the end of your pregnancy, and once you've had your baby.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
Provided you've worked for your employer since before you became pregnant, and are still employed by them 15 weeks before your due date, you'll be entitled to SMP. That's:
90% of your average earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks of your maternity leave
90% or £139.58 - whichever is lower - for the next 33 weeks of leave.
Contractual maternity pay
Your employer is legally obliged to pay you SMP, but may choose to pay a higher rate or for a longer period. Study the small print on your contract and talk to your boss or HR about the terms and conditions.
The sting in the tail is that, if you don't come back to work or don't stay for a specified period after you do come back, your employer may claw back the excess over SMP.
Remember that contractual maternity pay is not on top of SMP unless your contract says it is.
If you can't get SMP you might be able to get Maternity Allowance instead. This is a state allowance for women who are self-employed, or who have switched jobs recently and so aren't entitled to SMP from their current employer.
Maternity allowance is 90% of your average earnings or £139.58 a week, whichever is lower, for 39 weeks.
If you're self-employed, you'll need to have been paying Class 2 National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby's due date.
If you are not employed or self-employed, you may still be able to get Maternity Allowance if you regularly help in your self-employed spouse's or partner's business but aren't a partner or an employee.
When can maternity pay start?
You can start your leave - and start receiving maternity pay - from 11 weeks before your baby is due. You'll need to give your employer at least 28 days notice of the date you want it to start. Otherwise, your leave and pay start the day you give birth.
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