Your Rights and Pay during Maternity Leave

Site updated on February 17, 2020

Maternity Pay

Your employer must pay you Statutory Maternity Pay if you qualify for this. To qualify for statutory maternity pay you need to have 26 weeks continuous service by the end of the qualifying week. The qualifying week for statutory maternity pay is the 15th week before the estimated week of childbirth. There are also a number of other qualification factors. Briefly these are;

  • you have to be pregnant!
  • you have reached the 11th. week before the due date, or had your baby before that date
  • you have normal weekly earnings above the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions. This is amended each year. Check with our advice line for the latest figure.
  • you are not in prison or remanded in custody
  • you are residing in a country with whom the UK has an agreement to cover these payments (If you need further advice here call our advice line
  • you have stopped working wholly or partly because of your pregnancy or childbirth

Your Employer will pay you SMP (and can then reclaim a proportion of this back from the state.)

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

If you meet the above conditions,you are entitled to receive 90% of your “normal” wage or salary for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave.

Your “normal” salary, for the calculation of SMP, is worked out by adding together your gross pay for the 8 weeks (or 2 months if you are monthly paid) leading up to a “qualifying week”. This qualifying week is the 15th week before the estimated date of birth.

All pay you receive in this 8 week period counts towards calculating your Maternity pay. This means that overtime, and even bonuses, are included and will increase your Maternity pay where relevant.

Following a Court decision, from April 2005 you may also be entitled to the benefit of any pay rise your Employer has awarded to staff since you went on maternity leave – especially if the pay rise was backdated. If any pay rises have ben awarded ask your Employer if this affects your Maternity pay calculations.

If you have any concerns about your Maternity Pay do ring our advice line.

From April 2007 following this initial 6 weeks, a further 33 weeks is payable at a rate fixed by the Government, reviewed annually.

The amount is £151.20 per week in April 2020. SMP is payable for 39 weeks in total. This 39 weeks is your Statutory entitlement.

Some Employers pay more than the Statutory limits – ask your employer, union representative or look at your Company handbook to see if you are entitled to more than the statutory payments or time off.

You are not entitled to receive your normal salary whilst you are on maternity leave unless this is specifically allowed for in your contract of employment. Your normal salary will be replaced by Statutory Maternity pay, see above.

If you are not entitled to SMP, you may be able to obtain Maternity Allowance from the State. Contact the DSS for further information on Maternity Allowance or call our Advice Line.

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