Pregnant!!  Excited? Yes.  Anxious? Yes.  Confused?  Absolutely!!  The rules and regulations about maternity leave, maternity pay, paternity leave seem to be in constant flux.  So exactly what is Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and what are you entitled to?

What is SMP?

In its most basic form, SMP is a weekly payment that your employer is required to pay you when you take time off work to have your baby.  In order to qualify for it, you must:

  • have been in continuous employment for at least 26 weeks by the time you reach the 15th week before your due date (this is referred to as the qualifying week)
  • earn on average at least £112 per week
  • give at least 28 days’ notice and provide the date you’d like your SMP to start
  • provide proof that you’re pregnant – a letter from your doctor or midwife or a MATB1 certificate, which you should receive from your midwife around 20 weeks before your due date.

You can work out your qualifying week using this calculator on the website.

How much maternity pay will I get?

SMP starts on the first day of your maternity leave (if you’ve been off work with a pregnancy related illness, it will automatically start 4 weeks before the week your baby is due).  You will then be paid SMP for up to 39 weeks in the following way:

  • Weeks 1-6:  90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax)
  • Weeks 7-39:  £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower)

Your SMP will be paid just as your normal salary is, weekly or monthly and will also be subject to tax and NI.  Your employer is obliged to write to you within 28 days of your notice confirming the amount of SMP that you will get, the start date and the end date.

If things go wrong

If your baby is born early or you lose your child after the 24th week of pregnancy or after the birth, your SMP will not be affected.

My workplace has a maternity scheme

If your workplace runs a maternity scheme, you may get more than the statutory amount, your employer is free to offer you more money based on company policy but can’t pay you less than the amounts outlined above.