Maternity pay and allowances

Piggy bank on pregnant bumpMaternity pay will help keep you afloat financially while you're off work towards the end of your pregnancy, and once you've had the baby.

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 Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

SMP comprises:

  • 90% of your average earnings for the first six weeks of your maternity leave
  • 90% or £139.58, whichever is lower, for the next 33 weeks of your leave

SMP is the amount your employer is legally obliged to pay during your leave. You may be entitled to more than SMP, depending on your employer's terms and conditions. Study the small print on your contract, and talk to your boss or human resources department.

"Maternity pay varies hugely between both individual companies and industries. Car manufacturing companies seem to offer the most generous (and sensible!) enhanced maternity pay; the civil service seems to offer full pay between 20-24 weeks; universities around 18 weeks and private companies vary between nothing on top of SMP, and up to 36 weeks on full pay." Vallmo

Maternity Allowance

If you can't get SMP, you might be able to get Maternity Allowance instead. Maternity allowance is 90% of your average earnings or £139.58 a week, whichever is lower. It's paid for 39 weeks.

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.

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 take part (help) in your self-employed spouse's or partner's business. You must not be a partner or employee in the business. This was introduced on 1 April 2014, for women whose baby is due on or after 27 July 2014. 

When can maternity pay start?

You can start your leave - and start receiving your maternity pay - from 11 weeks before your baby is due. But if you give birth before then, your leave and pay start the day you give birth.

The latest your leave can begin is the day you actually give birth.

If you're off sick because of your pregnancy in the four weeks before your due date, your employer can insist on you starting your maternity leave from the first day of your illness. 

Other payments and benefits

  • £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant - helps with the costs of a baby if you're a benefit recipient; it only applies if the baby you're claiming for is the only child under 16 in the family
  • Healthy Start vouchers, which can be used towards the cost of milk, vegetables or fruit, are available for benefit recipients or under-18s

Budgeting and family finances

If you don't already do it, get budgeting. Write down all your outgoings (utility bills, council tax, mortgage/rent, food, clothes, insurance, transport, entertainment, holidays, debt repayments, dental bills, contact lenses, gym membership, hairdressers, that daily latte, etc etc) to see if you're living within your means and to identify areas where you can save money.

Mumsnetters are a (metaphorically) rich source of ideas for making your money go further. If you can't figure out how to make economies on your existing income, ask the Mumsnet massive on the Talk forums.

And peruse our webchat with Alvin Hall, who had lots of useful advice on working out what you actually spend and getting a handle on your money. 

If you're working while you're pregnant, and still earning two full salaries, start saving (if you haven't before) so you've something to fall back on when the baby arrives.

"Since we found out we were expecting we have been saving and have saved enough for me to take nine months off. With my maternity pay, I'll be no worse off than I will be once I'm back at work 4 days a week with childcare costs, so it's an amount we need to get used to living on." eastmidlandsnightnanny


Last updated: almost 2 years ago