Updated at: 27-05-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

People are familiar with the term “statutory maternity pay,” but few understand how it works or the steps you need to take to earn it. The information in this article regarding Statutory Maternity Pay will provide you with the knowledge you need to proceed with your pregnancy confidently.

Statutory Maternity Pay

For working women who have a baby, you may be entitled for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or even enhanced maternity pay.

An in-depth look of the SMP program, including what it covers, who is eligible, and how much they may anticipate to get, can be found in this article. Use the Government Calculator to quickly determine how much maternity leave you are entitled to.

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Am I eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay?

If you want to be eligible for SMP, you need to meet the following two requirements:

  • rules for long-term employment
  • the earnings rule

In addition, you must tell your employer when you wish to begin your SMP and show medical confirmation of when your kid is expected (your MATB1 form).

The continuous employment rule

You must have worked for your current employer for at least 26 weeks prior to the qualifying week in order to be eligible (which is the 15th week before the week in which the baby is due). During the qualifying week, you must work at least one day.

Continuous employment is typically defined as working for the same employer for an extended period of time. You may not be eligible for SMP if you move jobs during or after your pregnancy, or if you started working for your current company after you became pregnant.

The earnings rules

Your average gross weekly earnings must be at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (NI) purposes. This equates to £120 per week in April and May of 2021 and 2022, respectively.

An average of at least eight weeks’ worth of earnings will be taken into account when determining your eligibility for unemployment benefits. The’relevant period’ refers to this time period.

You may use the Government Calculator to find out if you are eligible for SMP, or you can read our article on Calculating maternity pay for more information.

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

During the 39 weeks when SMP is paid,

  • For the first six weeks, you will receive 90% of your average pay. In order to qualify, you must have earned a certain amount of money in the preceding eight weeks or two months (the “relevant period”).
  • For the following 33 weeks, you’ll be paid the lower of the flat weekly rate (currently £151.97) or 90% of your average weekly earnings.

You can use the Government Calculator to find out how much SMP you are eligible for, or you can read our article on Calculating maternity pay for more information.

When does it start?

Before your baby is born, you can begin taking paid maternity leave as early as the 11th week of pregnancy.

Your leave begins the day following the birth of your child if he or she is delivered prematurely.

Following the birth of your child, you must take at least two weeks of leave from your job.

Ordinary Maternity Leave, Additional Maternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is available to newly qualified parents in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Two distinct phases comprise your maternity leave:

  • The first six months of maternity leave, or 26 weeks, is referred to as “Odd Maternity Leave.” In this time, you are entitled to return to the same position you held prior to taking maternity leave.
  • This is the second six-month period of maternity leave, and it affects your rights when you return to work. To return to the same employment after more than six months of vacation, you must be allowed to do so unless the position is no longer accessible. It’s imperative that you get a job with the same pay and conditions as the one you had before.

Your rights on maternity leave

In addition to the benefits you regularly receive as an employee while on maternity leave, you’ll also be eligible to the following:

  • a day off work that is compensated
  • a guarantee against being unfairly sacked
  • During your time on Statutory Maternity Pay, you are entitled to pension payments and benefits.
  • For the duration of your maternity leave, you are entitled to all other employee benefits, such as free gym memberships and health insurance.

How much Statutory Maternity Pay will I get?

During your maternity leave, the amount of maternity pay you receive changes.

Your employer has no obligation to make any payment to you beyond 39 weeks.

In the 2020-21 tax year, the following table indicates how much you’ll receive for each stage of maternity leave:

Statutory Maternity Leave

Weeks 1 through 6

Thirty-three weeks.

Thirteen months from now.

Statutory Maternity Pay

90% of your weekly earnings, or £151.97 (2021/22) every week (whichever is less)

At least 90% of your pre-tax typical weekly income.


In order for your company to be required to pay you at least this amount, they must.

Your contract may provide that you are entitled to additional compensation.

More extensive maternity benefits than statutory maternity pay are provided by some businesses in the United States.

If you don’t return to work after 52 weeks, you may be responsible for any further costs.

Nonetheless, you’ll be able to keep all of the rest. When it comes to returning, it doesn’t matter whether or not you have any plans.

Talk to your boss or HR department about how much time off you’re entitled to for maternity leave.

Occupational Maternity Pay

If you work for a company that offers occupational maternity pay (also known as Contractual Maternity Pay), you may be eligible for additional compensation. Statutory Maternity Pay will not cover this.

If you don’t return to work following your pregnancy, you may be required to pay back any additional stipend you received.

For further information about your potential benefits, you’ll need to review your employment contract.

Statutory Maternity Pay if you’re an agency worker

Statutory Maternity Pay is available to agency workers who meet the eligibility requirements. It is necessary for you to:

  • When you reach the 15th week before your due date, you have worked for the same agency for 26 weeks.
  • During your 15th week of pregnancy, work part-time for the agency.
  • average weekly income over the previous two months was at least £120.

How do I claim Statutory Maternity Pay?

In order to get Statutory Maternity Pay, you must notify your employer that you are pregnant and that you will be absent from work due to the birth.

To begin your maternity leave, you must notify them at least 28 days in advance. There’s a chance your boss will want to know this in writing.

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What documents will I need to claim Statutory Maternity Pay?

A medical certificate will be required by your workplace if you inform them that you will be taking time off due of your pregnancy (a MATB1). Before your due date, your doctor or midwife will give you this certificate.

When will my Statutory Maternity Pay claim begin?

The Statutory Maternity Pay can begin as early as the 11th week before the baby’s due date.

The earliest you can begin Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is the week after the week in which the baby is born. So long as you’re not unwell, you can select when your Statutory Maternity Pay begins.

Statutory Maternity Pay will begin the following week if you are ill with a pregnancy-related illness in the six weeks before your due date. Statutory Sick Pay can be claimed up until the week the baby is due if you are ill with a non-pregnancy related sickness.

Change of circumstances

Changes in your circumstances that could impact your eligibility for this benefit must be reported by you.


What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

The SMP is paid for 39 weeks. SMP is compensated in two ways:

  • The first six weeks of your job are subsidized with 90 percent of your normal salary. It is based on your wages throughout the first 18 to 26 weeks of pregnancy.
  • From April 2021 to April 2022, you will be paid a flat rate of £151.97 per week for 33 weeks, or 90% of your average weekly earnings if that is lower.

Your SMP is paid in the same manner as your salary by your company. Taxes and NI contributions are deducted. HM Revenue and Customs has the right to take your SMP back from your employer (HMRC).

Even if you don’t intend to return to work or if your employment terminates after the 15th week before to the due date, you are eligible for SMP. No money from your SMP will be due if you don’t go to work.

In the eyes of the government, SMP does not qualify as public money. As an immigrant, you may be entitled to additional maternity rights and benefits.

Can I get SMP?

Employees and workers, such as casuals and agency workers, who are paid through PAYE (with tax and NI deducted at source) and match the criteria listed below may be eligible for SMP. Irrespective of how much time you spend at work, or when you want to return to it after having a child, this advice applies to everyone. SMP is also available to those who only work part-time, are on a temporary or fixed-term contract, or are apprentices, provided they meet the requirements listed below. Consider claiming Maternity Allowance instead if you don’t meet the requirements for SMP.

SMP can be yours if you meet the following criteria:

  • Before your due date, you should have been employed for a minimum of 26 weeks by the same company. In order to begin work in the 15th week before the predicted week of delivery, you must have been pregnant for at least 26 weeks.
  • The 15th week before the week you’re supposed to start your new employment, you’re still working at the same place. Even if you only work one day or part of a day or are sick or on vacation, you are still counted as being at work for the week. Providing you meet the other requirements, if you lose your work before the 15th week of your pregnancy, you are still eligible for SMP.
  • In the eight weeks (if you are paid weekly) or two months (if you are paid monthly) up to the last pay day before the end of the 15th week before your baby is born, you are paid at least £120 (before tax) per week (April 2021 – April 2022). If you were on furlough during the time of this calculation, your employer must use the pay you would have received instead of the furlough pay to determine your average weekly earnings.

When can I get SMP?

Your SMP can begin as early as 11 weeks before your projected due date. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work till the birth of your child.

  • Throughout the four weeks leading up to your due date, you have a pregnancy-related illness or absence
  • the birth of your child occurs prior to the commencement of your maternity leave

Your SMP will begin the day following your first day of absence from work if you are out sick with a pregnancy-related illness four weeks before your planned week of delivery. Your SMP period will begin on Thursday if you call in sick on a Wednesday. SMP begins on the day following the date of delivery if you give birth before your maternity leave begins.

How to give notice for maternity leave and pay?

The following information must be sent to your employer no later than the 15th week before the due date of your baby in order to be eligible for maternity leave:

  1. that you’re expecting a child
  2. the week leading up to the due date
  3. when you plan to begin taking maternity leave

A 28-day notice period must be given to your employer if you want to change the date of your maternity leave, whichever date is earlier. Tell your boss as soon as you are able if that isn’t possible for whatever reason.

You must notify your employer at least 28 days in advance of the date you intend to begin receiving SMP benefits.

In the 15th week before your due date, you can offer notice of leave and pay.

You must provide your employer with a copy of your pregnancy certificate (form MAT B1) from your midwife or GP, which states your projected due date, when you are about 20 weeks pregnant, in order to be eligible for SMP.

Maternity leave must be returned on the date stated in a letter from your employer within 28 days of giving notice.

If, for some reason, you are unable to give notice before the 15th week prior to your due date (such as an unexpected hospitalization), you must give notice as soon as you are able.

How much notice do I have to give to get SMP?

To be eligible for SMP, you must provide your employer with the proper notification. The best approach to find out whether or not you are eligible for SMP is to ask your employer, even if you aren’t sure. Form SMP1 will explain why you don’t qualify for SMP and you should instead claim Maternity Allowance.

On 0300 200 3200, the Employers’ SMP Helpline is available to answer any questions your employer may have regarding your SMP.

What can I do if my employer does not pay SMP correctly?

Your employer and/or payroll department should be contacted if you suspect an error has been made or your SMP is not being paid. Please contact the HMRC Statutory Payment Disputes Team on 0300 322 9422, or read Where to go for further information below, if you cannot resolve the issue.

My employer has told me they do not have enough money to pay my SMP. What can I do?

It is possible for your employer to claim compensation for any SMP paid to you (including the first six weeks).

Alternatively, if your employer does not have enough money to pay your SMP, they can apply to their HMRC Accounts Office for advance funding: https://www.gov.uk/recover-statutory-payments/if-you-cant

My employer has gone into liquidation. Can I still get my SMP?

The Statutory Payments Disputes Team at HMRC can be reached by phone at 0300 322 9422 (see Where to go for additional information). There is a lot of traffic on the phone, so you may have to keep trying. HMRC’s Statutory Payments Disputes Team can be contacted if you are unable to pay your SMP: Statutory payments disputes can be filed at the following address: HMRC (PT Operations), BX9 1AN.

Do I still get SMP if my job ends after the 15th week before my baby is due?

It is still possible to receive SMP if you are employed for at least part of the 15th week prior to the due date of your child and complete the other requirements outlined above. SMP is available to you for the whole 39 weeks after you have qualified for it (unless you start a new job for a new employer). This holds true even if you are laid off, quit your work, or have your fixed-term contract terminated in the 15th week of your pregnancy or while on maternity leave.

All employers can claim your SMP from HMRC, so you don’t have to refund your SMP when you aren’t working.

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Can I still get SMP if my visa expires after the 15th week before my baby is due or I go abroad during my SMP period?

You can still get SMP if you are employed during all or part of the 15th week before your baby is born and you meet the standard qualifying conditions as described above. For 39 weeks, if you meet the requirements for SMP, you are eligible to receive benefits (unless you start a new job for a new employer). In the event that your visa expires before you are able to get SMP, or if you must leave the country in order to give birth to your child, or for any other reason, you are still eligible to collect your entire SMP.

My employer has said they no longer have enough work for me but I think that they are dismissing me to avoid having to pay my SMP. What can I do?

The Statutory Payments Disputes Team at HM Revenue and Customs can help you if you were fired to avoid paying your SMP. Call them at 0300 322 9422 and ask for a formal decision on your claim to SMP. If you were fired, you have the right to know why you were let go. The more evidence you have about how long you expected your task to last and if there is still work to be done, the more likely you are to get a favorable settlement.

Questions and answers on maternity leave are provided in the section below.

How much statutory maternity pay you’ll get?

Statutory maternity pay lasts for 39 weeks and consists of the following:

  • Six weeks at 90% of your typical weekly wage (before tax)
  • 33 weeks of collecting either £151.97 a week or 90% of your normal weekly pay (before tax) – whichever is less.

In the event of a furlough, your weekly pay is based on the amount you would have earned had you not been furloughed.

It’s possible that you’ll have to pay taxes and national insurance.

Amounts paid to you for statutory maternity benefits from previous pregnancies are included in your average salary.

The same amount will be given to you regardless of the number of children you plan to bear.

Do you get paid for maternity leave?

During your pregnancy, you will not be compensated, although this period is referred regarded as the “waiting period” for benefits.

When your maternity pay starts and finishes

Your maternity leave and maternity pay begin on the same day. While working or more than 11 weeks before your due date, you can’t get pregnant while on the pill. The day after you give birth, your maternity pay begins. if you don’t get maternity leave.

If you fall sick in the four weeks leading up to your due date, your maternity pay may begin sooner.

Statutory maternity leave can last up to 39 weeks, but if you return to work before then, your benefits will expire sooner.

Don’t lose out on your maternity pay if your wages vary

Based on your average annual salary, you receive statutory maternity pay. As a result, it’s best to keep your salary as high as possible while your employer calculates your typical wage. If you are employed by an agency or work shifts, your compensation may be subject to this fluctuation, so keep this in mind.

Your average wage is calculated using the eight weeks leading up to the fifteenth week prior to your due date. During this period, you may wish to consider:

  • the cancellation of unpaid leave
  • doing whatever extra work you can, even if it means taking on additional shifts or hours.
  • taking sick days off with pay if the sick pay is less than what you’d typically get

If you want to work while you’re getting maternity pay

If you return to work or begin a new career, your maternity leave benefits will typically come to an end. A little additional cash can help you get by if you’re having financial difficulties.

If you’re unsure whether or not taking on more work may influence your maternity pay, speak with a representative from your local Citizens Advice.

What are my rights to flexible working?

You have the right to request flexible working hours and locations, but these requests must not have a negative impact on business operations. In the event that an employer declines a request, they must have legal grounds for doing so, so be careful to maintain copies of any correspondence with your supervisors, including emails, phone calls, and meetings.

Can I take more than 12 weeks off work after having a baby?

Yes! First-time mothers are eligible for twelve weeks of unpaid leave following the birth or adoption of their first child.

For example, if two adults need to return to work week by week or month by month, they can do so until they total twelve weeks over the course of one year following the birth or adoption of their kid.

During these ‘Keeping in Touch Days,’ moms are required to stay in touch with their employers. In most cases, this implies that moms are expected to phone or contact their supervisor once a week, however this can vary depending on the company’s policy.

Can I apply for Cerb after maternity leave?

Definitely. Once the waiting period is finished and you return to work, you will be eligible to begin working on your application. Normally, this implies contacting them at least once a week, however this can vary depending on the corporate policy.

What benefits am I entitled to if I don’t return to work after maternity leave?

If you are unable to return to work following maternity leave, you can ask for paid leave from your employer under the FMLA. Health care coverage, family care expenses, and time off work are all included in a list of state-by-state benefits provided by the US Department of Labor.

Can I extend my maternity leave?

Some states, such as California and New York, allow you to extend your maternity leave. If it isn’t included in the contract or benefits package, you should bring it up when accepting a job offer because taking more time off from work may limit your chances for advancement or advancement in your profession.

Can you go on the sick straight after maternity leave?

No, you are not allowed to return to work immediately following maternity leave. Prior to take any time off during your maternity leave, you must first use up all of your yearly and/or corporate sick days.

Can I still work from home while on maternity?

Many firms now allow new mothers to work with fewer responsibilities or from home for a short time. The length of the arrangement should be discussed with your manager if this is an option, as well as the possibility of flexible working in the future.

How long does maternity leave last?

According to the federal government, maternity leave lasts for 52 weeks, however this might vary depending on how much you earn and the terms of your job contract.

If your employer offers more than 52 weeks of paid maternity leave, you should take advantage of it since not only will the extra money come in handy – working for such a company could boost your chances of promotion as well! ‘

Job Forums may have more information on the length of time that other companies offer. An exception to this is if an employee’s maternity leave was preceded by an agreement to return to reduced or flexible working hours (such as part-time work) when the baby is born.

What can I do if my employer isn’t engaging?

Keeping records of requests for maternity leave and referring these cases to human resources (or the appropriate person) is a legal requirement for all enterprises with more than 150 employees. Section 76 of the SMP Regulations 1999 states that noncompliance is illegal.

This means that employers must treat each request individually, even if they have previously rejected identical applications, but there may still be potential for bargaining depending on the situation.

What happens if I don’t return to work after maternity leave NHS?

If this is the case, you may face financial penalties or even the termination of your job contract. It is critical, however, that the company establish a clear policy on these topics so that employees know what to expect.

Instead of letting valuable employees go, firms could provide flexible work schedules as an option.