What is Maternity Allowance?
If you are employed and are due to take time to have a baby, you may be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). To qualify for SMP, you must have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks before your ‘qualifying week’, earn at least £123 a week on average for 8 weeks before your qualifying week and give the correct notice and proof of your pregnancy.
In some cases, employers may offer enhanced maternity pay (sometimes called ‘occupational’ or ‘contractual’ maternity pay), which is more than the statutory maternity pay rate. You will need to check your contract or talk to your employer to find out if you’re entitled to enhanced maternity pay, the amount of pay you will get and for how long you will receive it.
Alternatively, Maternity allowance is a payment made by the government to pregnant women who are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from their employer.
“Invaluable Support ”
“MAD-HR have provided invaluable support throughout the recent lockdown, providing much need HR resources for employers, just when needed” Read the full review
How much is Maternity Allowance?
It is currently set at £172.48 per week or 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller amount. Maternity Allowance is paid for up to 39 weeks.
Update: The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay is £172.48, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate.
Maternity Allowance Eligibility Rules
The amount received will depend on your eligibility. You can get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if in the 66 weeks before your baby’s due, you’ve been employed or registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks.
It will also depend on whether you have paid enough national insurance contributions. You must have earned £30 or more a week for at least 13 of those weeks – the weeks don’t have to be together. If not enough national insurance has been paid, a lower amount of Maternity Allowance may be paid of either £27 per week for 39 weeks or £27 per week for 14 weeks. In order to check eligibility and find out about Maternity Allowance entitlements, access the Government maternity entitlement calculator.
How to apply for Maternity Allowance
In order to claim maternity allowance, you will need to complete a Maternity Allowance (MA1) claim form. You’ll need to give information about your employment in the 66 weeks before your baby is due (called the ‘Test Period’). You will need to provide a maternity certificate (form MATB1) from your midwife or doctor giving the expected date of birth of your child (which you’ll get after your 20-week scan) and other supporting evidence.
If you are (or have recently been) employed but your employer or ex-employer has decided you are not entitled to SMP, they should give you form SMP1 explaining why, which you should send to the DWP to support your claim. You should get a decision on your claim within 20 working days. Maternity Allowance is paid by Jobcentre Plus, directly into your bank, building society or Post Office account or through the Payment Exception Service and is paid either every two or four weeks.
When to apply for Maternity Allowance
The earliest your claim will be accepted is the 15th week before your baby is due (around week 26 of your pregnancy). Payments can start 11 weeks before the baby is due.
What if I’m not eligible for MA?
If you are not eligible for SMP or MA, you may be eligible for other maternity benefits such as Universal Credit and/or Employment Support Allowance. If you already have a tax credits award you may be entitled to more help if you have a new baby or during your maternity pay period.
How long is Maternity Leave?
When you’re having a baby, you’re entitled to 52 weeks of Statutory Maternity Leave. This can be made up of Ordinary Maternity Leave (first 26 weeks) and Additional Maternity Leave (last 26 weeks). Your employer should assume that you will take the full 52 weeks of maternity leave, unless you advise them otherwise. The earliest your paid maternity leave can start is the 11th week before your baby’s due date. If you change your mind and want to change the start date of your maternity leave, you must give your employer at least 28 days’ notice before the date you originally intended to start your leave, or 28 days’ notice before the new date, whichever is the earlier.
If you are an employer who has a pregnant woman working for you, or an employee who is on maternity leave, it is important to know what your obligations are. Take a look at our HR toolkit as it will give you all that you need including the forms / templated letters to successfully manage the situation and ensure that you are compliant with UK employment legislation.
If you want to talk to one of our team to support you in ensuring your business is compliant or see a demonstration of the HR Toolkit then contact us.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact us.
There may be occasions where the articles contain links to external websites. We have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. The inclusion of such links does imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.