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Maternity Pay Made Clear

If you are pregnant and employed, you are entitled to maternity pay whilst you are on

maternity leave. This includes freelancers, employees, agency workers, zero-hour workers

and casual workers.

How much you receive will depend on a variety of factors and it can be confusing, so we

have put this guide together to help you understand maternity pay. Understanding

maternity pay will help you to plan your leave and if/when you choose to go back to

work, so read on to find out more.

The Different Types Of Maternity Pay

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) – This is the standard type of maternity pay. If you are entitled to this, this is the legal minimum you will receive from your employer. Though it is paid by your employer, they can eventually claim most of it back from the Government.

  • Maternity Allowance (MA) – You can claim this if you do not qualify for SMP. It is provided by the Government agency Jobcentre plus.

  • Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP) – This is offered by some employers instead of SMP. Your company maternity policy should tell you if yours does.

The main two types of maternity pay are Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Maternity

Allowance (MA). Any of the above payments in addition to any maternity leave you get.

How Do I Qualify For Statutory Maternity Pay?

You are eligible for SMP if…

  • You have been employed by the same employer throughout your pregnancy and are still used there in the 15th week before your baby is due.

  • If you earn at least £123 a week (before tax).

  • You give enough notice to your employer. Usually, you need to inform them 28 days before you would like your SMP to start. Within the 28-day period, your employer must confirm how much money you will receive and when it will begin and end.

  • If you leave your job after the 15th week before your due date, for example, if you are made redundant or dismissed, you are still entitled to receive SMP for 39 weeks.

What Happens If I Am Not Eligible For Statutory Maternity Pay?

If you are not eligible for SMP, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead. You

might receive MA if you changed jobs during your pregnancy, have low earnings or if you

left work recently and don’t qualify for SMP.

If you receive Maternity Allowance, you will either get £156.66 a week or 90% of your

average weekly earnings. You can claim Maternity Allowance for up to 39 weeks, meaning

that if you choose to take the full 52 weeks of statutory maternity leave, the last 13 weeks

will be unpaid.

You can claim MA once you have been pregnant for 26 weeks, and it will usually start on the same date you decide to start your maternity leave.

When Can I get Contractual Maternity Pay?

Some employers offer CMP as a benefit of working there. What you get will depend on your

employer, but you should never be worse off than if you were getting SMP. You might get

CMP even if you are not eligible for SMP, and you might be able to get Maternity Allowance

as well.

To find out if you could qualify for Contractual Maternity Pay, check your company

maternity policy or speak to your employer.

What If I Can’t Get Any Maternity Pay?

Try not to worry, as there is other financial help out there. You might qualify for

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit. There are also benefit

calculators online, such as, which can help you work out which benefit/s

you could be entitled to.

Your Maternity Pay Rights

If your employer is refusing to pay Statutory Maternity Pay or has gone into liquidation,

contact the HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team.

There are also a number of websites and tools that could be useful to you, such as

Maternity Action, ACAS or the Working Families helpline.

Thank You For Reading

Thank you so much for reading our article about maternity pay. We hope it has been useful

to you and that you found it informative. If you’ve got a minute, why not have a look at the

many other articles we have to offer? They discuss a wide range of topics that might be

useful to you, such as financial tips that could help you out.


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