Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay

Maternity Leave – Changes

Other changes

Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance

Statutory Maternity Pay

Pregnant employees who meet the qualifying conditions based on their length of service and average earnings are entitled to receive employers up to 26 weeks’ Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from their employers up to 18 weeks’ SMP.

Qualifying conditions

  • She must work for someone who is liable (or would be liable but for low earnings) to pay the employer’s share of her Class 1 National Insurance contributions.
  • She must have 26 weeks’ continuous service with her employer into the 15th week before the week her baby is due. The 15th week before the week the baby is due is known as the qualifying week
  • She must have average weekly earnings in the eight weeks up to and including the qualifying week at or above the lower earnings limit (LEL) for the payment of National Insurance (NI) contributions (£90 a week 2008/2009).

Levels and length of payment

  • Paid for a maximum of 39 weeks.
  • Six weeks at 90 per cent of her average weekly earnings (with no upper limit).
  • 33 weeks at a flat rate of £117.18 or 90 per cent of her average weekly earnings if that is less than the flat rate

Employer reimbursement level

  • Employers recover 92 per cent of the Statutory Maternity Pay they pay by deducting it from their next payment of NI contributions, PAYE and other payments to the Inland Revenue.
  • Small employers (those whose total NI liability is £45,000 or less in the previous tax year) may recover 104.5 per cent (April 2004) of the Statutory Maternity Pay they pay.
  • Employers may claim money in advance to help with their cashflow.

Maternity Allowance

Women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay may qualify for Maternity Allowance. This is paid by JobCentre Plus and is based on the woman’s recent employment and earnings record.

Qualifying conditions

  • For employed women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, the self-employed and recently employed
  • A woman must have been employed or self-employed on at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks ending with the week before the expected week of childbirth (the test period)
  • She must also earn at least £30 per week on average.

Full details of the Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance schemes can be found in the leaflet N17A (which is available from the DWP website:

Further information about the Statutory Maternity Pay scheme for employers is also available from the HMRC Employer Helpbook E15 (2010) Employer Helpbook for Statutory Maternity Pay (PDF).

For additional help, employers may phone the employers’ helpline on 08457 14 31 43

Maternity Leave & Statutory Maternity Pay business advice Crown Copyright © 2003-2011

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