When you get pregnant you’re usually entitled to money from the government, months off work and more.
Here’s the lowdown on statutory maternity pay...
At a glance
- The government will support you so you won't have to worry about money or work for a while
- You will need to prove you are pregnant with a letter or MATB1 certificate from your doctor or midwife
- Make sure you do everything by the book to ensure you get everything you are owed
Bonding time with baby
Time off with your baby when they first burst into your life, is utterly precious. A chaotic but happy time of bonding, breastfeeding, long walks in the park, meeting new mums and helping your baby learn exciting new skills almost every day. And for mums in the UK, the good news is there is plenty of government support to help you enjoy this cherished time without you having to worry about money or work for a while.
What are my maternity rights?
When you get pregnant, you may be entitled to four really helpful things:
Here we look at the statutory maternity pay you’re hopefully entitled to, and how to claim it.
What will I get paid?
The government will pay you statutory maternity pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks. You get:
- 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
- £148.68 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (eg monthly or weekly), with tax and National Insurance taken off as usual.
Do I qualify?
To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) you need to:
- Earn on average at least £118 a week
- Give enough notice (see below)
- Prove you’re pregnant (yes really!)
- Have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
Timing is everything here, but if all the dates are making your head hurt, check out the helpful calculators on the government Gov.UK website.
What if I don’t qualify?
Your employer must give you form SMP1 explaining why – and they need to let you know within seven days of making their decision. But there are options - you could get Maternity Allowance instead.
How do I claim?
When you’ve had a good think about dates, tell your employer that you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you would like to start your SMP. You must give them at least 28 days’ notice (in writing if they ask for it) and proof you’re pregnant.
Then they need to confirm what you’ll get and when.
I need to prove I’m pregnant?
As if a growing bump and eating around the clock aren’t signs enough, you do need to prove your pregnant! So 21 days before starting your SMP, you need to give your employer either:
- A letter from your doctor or midwife
- Your MATB1 certificate - doctors and midwives usually issue these 20 weeks before the due date.
Need to complain?
If your employer isn’t playing ball, you should take action:
- Talk to your employer and make sure you get a written explanation
- Make a formal complaint, or speak to your trade union or employees’ rep if you have one
- Call HM Revenue & Customs employee's enquiry line on 0845 302 1479 for advice.
Top tip: make sure you do everything by the book to ensure you get paid everything you’re owed.
For more information visit the Money Advice Service, or the government’s Gov.UK website.
Saving money for all the things you’ll need and to help out whilst you’re on maternity leave can be daunting. Your budget may already feel stretched, but by making a few small adjustments to your daily life and everyday expense you can help you start saving money with minimal changes to your lifestyle.