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Maternity pay explained

Source: HM Revenue & Customs | | 23/04/2019

How much maternity leave can you take?

If you work as an employee and become pregnant you are eligible to take up to 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave. This is made up of 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave plus an extra 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. If you give the correct notice period to your employer this means you are entitled to take a full year's leave.

Statutory maternity leave is available to all employees and it doesn’t matter how many hours you work or how long you have worked for your employer.

When are you entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay? 

There are additional criteria that must be fulfilled if you want to claim statutory maternity pay (SMP). SMP is a weekly payment from your employer made over a 39-week period.

SMP is payable at

  • 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings (AWE) for the first 6 weeks with no upper limit;
  • £148.68 (for 2019-20) or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower) for the remaining 33 weeks.

The SMP is available to employees if:

  • They are on the payroll in the 'qualifying week' - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • Provide the correct notice period to their employer.
  • Provide proof they are pregnant.
  • They have been working continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the qualifying week.
  • They earned at least £118 a week (gross) in the 'relevant period'. The relevant period is usually the 8-week period preceding the 15th week before the baby is due, known as the qualifying week.

The maternity allowance is a financial benefit for pregnant women who are self-employed, who are working but do not qualify for the SMP or who have recently stopped working. Your employer is free to offer you additional benefits which includes higher maternity payments, however this is at their discretion and not legally required.



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