Are you entitled to maternity pay? Find out what your rights and benefits are – whether you’re in work, have a part-time job, work for yourself or are unemployed. Find out what financial help you can get.
Women in full-time employment should qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This equates to:
- 90% of their average gross earnings for the first six weeks, and
- £138.18 (or 90% of weekly earnings if lower) for each of the remaining 33 weeks.
Tax and National Insurance will be deducted from these payments.
However if you’re in part-time employment or are self-employed, it’s often confusing to know what you’re entitled to.
Find out what your maternity pay rights are whether you are in work, self-employed or unemployed
Here, we answer your questions about your maternity rights – whatever your situation.
I work full-time. What’s my maternity pay entitlement?
To qualify for SMP you need to have been employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. You also need to be earning at least £111 a week (before tax).
You must tell your employer when you plan to start your leave – and receive your first maternity payments – at least 28 days beforehand.
Payments will then usually be made in the same way and at the same time as your normal wages for up to 39 weeks.
I work part-time. Am I entitled to maternity pay?
As a part-time worker, your maternity rights are protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of less favourable Treatment) Regulation 2000, and are the same as those described for full-time staff above.
You must, however, earn £111 or more a week to qualify for SMP – no matter how many hours you work.
I am self-employed. Do I qualify for maternity pay?
You are not entitled to SMP if you are self-employed, unemployed or have changed jobs during your pregnancy (meaning that you have not been continuously employed by the same company for 41 weeks before the baby is due). You may, however, qualify for the Maternity Allowance.
Again, you must have worked for at least 26 of the 66 weeks prior to your due date (although you may also qualify if you have earned at least £30 a week for 13 weeks in the 56 weeks before your baby is due).
Maternity Allowance pays a standard weekly rate of £136.78 or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings before tax, whichever is the smaller, and is paid for a maximum period of 39 weeks.
It can be paid every two or four weeks directly into your bank or building society.
I am unemployed. Am I entitled to maternity pay?
If you are unemployed, you do not qualify for SMP or Maternity Allowance.
However, you may still be able to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). ESA is £71 a week for a person over 25 or a single parent over 18, and is paid from six before your baby is due until two weeks after your child is born.
Your entitlement to this will be automatically checked by JobCentre Plus. You will need to have made sufficient National Insurance contributions to qualify.
Can I claim tax credits while I am on maternity leave?
As long as you count as being in work (for example, you worked for 30 hours a week if you were previously childless), you can carry on getting working tax credits when your maternity leave starts.
In some circumstances, you may also be able to start claiming working tax credits for the first time while on maternity leave – as long as you were working for at least 16 hours a week as a single parent, or 24 hours a week (between you) as a couple.
As soon as your baby is born, you can also apply for child tax credits.