Pregnancy App Article: "Planning ahead: Maternity pay"

Week 22
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Maternity Pay
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Planning ahead
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Time to make a budget. Here’s how maternity pay works:

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
For most people, this will be the main bulk of their maternity pay.

You are entitled to SMP if:
  • You are an employee. Genuinely self-employed folks and agency workers don't get SMP but may be entitled to Maternity Allowance.
  • You have worked for a continuous 26 weeks by the 15th week before your due date.
  • You earn on average at least £112 a week.
  • You have given notice to your employer as to when you expect your maternity leave to start.
  • The good thing about SMP is that you don't have to go back to work in order to be entitled to it (or even intend to). 
How much SMP will you get?

It's 39 weeks pay, but sadly only six weeks of that are at the 'higher rate', which is 90% of your usual salary. 
The rest will be paid at the 'lower rate' which is currently £139.58 (or 90% of your usual pay if that happens to be lower than £139.58).

Contractual maternity pay
Some employers pay maternity pay at higher rates than SMP or pay it for longer periods. The sting in the tail is that there is often a requirement that the excess over SMP may be clawed back by your employer if you don't come back to work or don't stay for a reasonable period after you do come back. So have a good look at your contract.

It's lawful for your employer to put in a clawback provision as long as the period you are required to return for isn't ridiculous (so a few months is probably fine, five years is not, anything in between will depend upon the specific circumstances).

Also remember that contractual maternity pay is not on top of SMP unless your contract says it is.

Maternity Allowance
This is what you may get if you don’t qualify for SMP. You can claim it after you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks. It’s paid fortnightly or monthly and the amount you get depends on your eligibility.

You could receive either:
  • £139.58 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
  • £27 a week for up to 14 weeks

You can get more information on how much money you’re entitled to by visiting the government website (www.gov.uk) and searching under the benefits section.
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You are allowed to do 10 paid 'Keeping in Touch' days during the period you receive Mat Allowance, though once you start working properly again, even part time, you have to declare in and the Mat Allowance will stop.
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I'm self-employed and it was easy to claim Maternity Allowance - just fill in the claim form and get yourself a MATB1 certificate from the midwife as evidence for pregnancy.
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When on SMP your tax and NI go right down - I started getting tax back on my payslips as I'd overpaid earlier in the year. Reducing outgoings also helped us a lot.
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