How to Get Statutory Maternity Pay: A Guide

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03 Aug 2018

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UK law protects employees who are having a baby with both maternity leave and—the subject of this article—Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). With that in mind, here's how to get Statutory Maternity Pay. When a pregnant employee meets certain criteria, she qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay.

Here's How to Get Statutory Maternity Pay:

  • She must be on your payroll in her "qualifying week". The qualifying week is the 15th week before the EWC. The EWC is the expected week of childbirth.
  • She must give you 28 days' notice of the date that she wants to start her Statutory Maternity Pay.
  • A pregnant employee must give you proof that she's pregnant, i.e. a doctor's letter or a maternity certificate. Midwives and doctors normally issue these documents around 20 weeks before the EWC.
  • She must earn an average of at least £116 (gross, not net) in an 8-week "relevant period". When your employee gives birth to her baby before or during her qualifying week, the 8-week relevant period is the period between the last normal payday on or before the Saturday of the week the baby is born, and the day after the last normal payday falling at least 8 weeks before.

Your employee should give you her proof of pregnancy within 21 days of the start date of her Statutory Maternity Pay. You retain the right to accept her proof later than this if you want to. Always keep records of proof of pregnancy. If your employee doesn't give you the right amount of notice and doesn't have a reasonable excuse, you can refuse to pay her SMP. Additionally, if you haven't had proof of pregnancy after 13 weeks of your employee receiving her SMP, you can refuse to continue paying SMP. Employees without 26 continuous weeks of working for you will need to claim maternity allowance.

How Long Must You Work to Get Maternity Pay?

Employees must have worked for you for at least 26 continuous weeks up to any day within their "qualifying week".

How Much Maternity Pay Do You Get?

You can use our simple and free maternity pay calculator to work out your maternity pay entitlement. SMP usually last for 39 weeks. During the first six weeks, you pay your employee 90% of her average weekly earnings (AWE). You must pay her £145.18 per week for each of the remaining 33 weeks (or 90% of her AWE if this figure is the lower amount). Tax and National Insurance deductions apply as normal. If you were to pay your employee's SMP as a lump sum, your business and your employee could end up paying more in National Insurance contributions (NICs). If your employee's pay period includes the month of April, you should be aware that pay rates will increase. You will need to re-evaluate the lump sum to include the increase in what you owe her. You must not pay SMP in benefits or other non-cash payments. You can also pay your staff occupational maternity pay.

What Happens if an Employee is Sick During the SMP Period?

You don't need to pay her Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), just continue paying Statutory Maternity Pay. If she returns to work during her Maternity Pay Period (MPP) and has to go on sick leave during the period, pay SMP and not SSP.

What Happens if the Mother or the Baby Dies?

If your employee passes away during her Maternity Pay Period, you should pay SMP for the week in which she dies. After that, you don't have to pay SMP. However, if the baby dies during the pay period you still need to pay Statutory Maternity Pay as normal. A stillbirth occurs when the baby is stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy. You must pay SMP and grant maternity leave to your employee if she suffers a stillbirth. Unfortunately, you should request evidence, i.e. a stillbirth certificate. You can acquire this from the registrar. The attending midwife or doctor could also provide the documentation.

Talk to an Expert

For more information about how to get Statutory Maternity Pay, speak to our employment law experts on 0808 145 3375.

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