Saturday, 26 March 2016

Help! I Don't Qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Perhaps you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your Employer as you haven’t worked there long enough or you don’t earn enough. 
Perhaps you are unemployed or maybe you are your own boss and SMP doesn’t apply to you. 
Don’t worry – there is other help available!


Maternity Allowance

If you are an Employee
Your employer should give you a form called SMP1.  This explains why they can not pay you SMP.  Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 and ask for a MA1 claim form or download one from HERE.

This is a form to apply for Maternity Allowance.  You will need to send in the SMP1 form, MATB1 form from your Midwife and proof of earnings in the form of original payslips.
You must have worked at least 26 weeks of the previous 66 week period before the week your baby is due.  In 13 of those weeks, you must have earned at least £30 per week.  
When you are collecting your payslips, choose the 13 weeks where you earned the most. If you are paid monthly, send 4 months worth of payslips in with your highest earnings.
The standard weekly rate of Maternity Allowance is £139.58.  
If your average weekly amount is less than this, you will receive 90% of that average amount.
Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks.

For the recently unemployed
Mums to be who have recently become unemployed may also qualify for Maternity Allowance.  If you have worked for 26 weeks during the 66 weeks before your baby is due and have earned more than £30 in 13 of those weeks, you can apply as above.

For Self Employed Mums-to-be
Call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 and ask for a MA1 claim form or download one from:

HMRC will be asked if your Class 2 National Insurance Contributions are up to date.  If they are, you are entitled to the full weekly rate of Maternity Allowance of £139.58 for 39 weeks.
If you have a Small Earnings Certificate, your maternity allowance will be treated as if you earn £30 per week and so will receive only £27 per week (90%) for 39 weeks. 
Perhaps consider cancelling your Small Earnings Certificate as soon as you know you are pregnant and start to pay the full Class 2 NI Contributions (currently £2.75 per week).


Recent changes could mean that new Mums who are not employed or self employed but have helped out in their self-employed Husband's or Civil Partner's business on an unpaid basis, are entitled to 14 weeks of Maternity Allowance.

For more information on this and a full guide to the Maternity Allowance, please refer to the claim form or: www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance/eligibility

If you do not qualify for Maternity Allowance

You my qualify for 8 week’s worth of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead.  You need to be on a low income but also have paid some National Insurance over the past few years.
ESA replaced Incapacity Benefit.  Mothers are considered as having  “limited capability to work” due to pregnancy from 6 weeks before the baby is due until 2 weeks after.
You can fill in the MA1 form for Maternity Allowance as above.  Some of the question will not apply to you so leave them blank and in Part 9 “Other Information” state that you would like your claim to be considered for ESA.

For more information visit: www.gov.uk/employment-support-allowance



Statutory Maternity Pay 2016 - 2017

To help you take time off work with your baby, if you are an employee, you may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) which is a payment from the government and is paid to you via your employer. 

(You may also be lucky enough to have this enhanced by a company maternity pay scheme).



Do I qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)?
To qualify for SMP you must meet the following criteria:

Have been in your current employment continuously for at least 26 weeks prior to the 15th week before the week your baby is due (the Qualifying Week). In plain terms, you should have started the job before you fell pregnant and still be in the same employment at approximately week 26 of your pregnancy. 
If you are made redundant or resign from your job after the qualifying week but before your maternity leave was due to start, your employer will still be obliged to pay your maternity pay if you are eligible.

You must be earning on average an amount which at least equals the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL). The LEL for 2016/2017 is £112 per week or £486 per month.
This must be the case on the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week.

You must give your employer evidence that you are pregnant. This is the form MATB1 that you will receive from your midwife around week 21 of your pregnancy.

You must give your employer notice of your intention to take maternity leave in writing on or before the qualifying week (ie by week 26 of your pregnancy.) 
For help working out your qualifying dates and weeks, visit:    
www.gov.uk/pay-leave-for-parents


How is SMP calculated?
SMP is calculated over an average of 8 week’s (if you are paid weekly) or 2 month’s (if you are paid monthly) worth of gross earnings before the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week. 
The more eligible pay you receive during these periods, the more SMP you will receive for the first 6 weeks of your payments. 

The payments used must be eligible for national insurance deductions.
Examples of these are:
Salary or basic pay/hours
Overtime
Bonus payments
Sick pay
Holiday pay
Commission

The qualifying payments are added together and multiplied by 6 to get an annual average. 
This is then divided by 52 to find an average weekly amount.

How much SMP will I get?
SMP is paid as follows:
EITHER:
6 weeks at 90% of the average weekly amount
followed by 33 weeks at the statutory amount
(for the 2014/2014 tax year this is £139.58 per week)

OR:
39 weeks at 90% of your average weekly amount if your average weekly amount is less than £138.18

Some companies offer additional occupational maternity pay, so please check your contract and speak to your HR Department.

(SMP is subject to tax and national insurance.)

NB    If you are due a pay rise while you are on your maternity leave, your average weekly amount will need to be re-calculated to include it.


Keeping in Touch (K.I.T.) Days
You are allowed 10 K.I.T. Days during you maternity pay period (while you receive your SMP).  These are days when you can go into work to stay in touch with what’s going on or for training.  It could just be for half an hour or a full day.
You are not usually paid extra for these days, but you do not lose any of your SMP for that week.  (Some employers may offer additional payment on top of the week’s SMP so please check your contract.)
Don’t exceed the 10 days though as you will lose the whole week’s worth of SMP, and don’t do a K.I.T. day in the same week (seven day period) as you go back to work as you will also lose the SMP for that week.

I don’t qualify for SMP – what can I do?
If you do not qualify for SMP from your employer or you are self employed, you may be entitled to Maternity Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance which is paid to you directly by the government. 
For more information visit: www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance and see our post "Help! I don't qualify for SMP"



For further help and information, I recommend the following websites:



If you have a question, please do leave a comment or contact me via email if it is of a more 
personal nature.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Teacher Tax Rebates

Summer holidays – a time for Teachers to take a break and finally get around to doing all those little jobs that they just can’t fit in during term time.  Like, for example, claiming a tax rebate from HMRC on your fees and subscriptions or for sports clothing for PE.




Many Teachers are not aware that such refunds are due to them.  There are many companies who will charge you a fee and percentage to take care of this for you (please double check the Terms and Conditions if you want to use one - they could keep much more than you had bargained for) but applying for your own refund for the price of a stamp is perfectly possible!

If you can answer yes to these questions, you could be due a tax rebate:  

  1.  Have you paid union fees or fees to a professional body (including the GTC) in the last 4 years? Please check against the list of the qualifying bodies here:    www.hmrc.gov.uk/list3/index.htm
  2. Does your work require you to wear specific items of clothing for which you are required to wash and maintain such as:
·         Sports clothes for the teaching or supervising of P.E.
·         Laboratory Coat
·         Protective Clothing
·         A uniform with your Employer’s logo 

      How do I Claim?
      Claims can be made going back 4 years and you may also be entitled to an increase in your personal tax allowance for the current tax year so that you pay less tax.  I have put together a letter template which you can add your own details to.  Please complete as instructed, pop it in the post to HMRC and await a reply (hopefully with a cheque!).  
      All it will cost you is the stamp and any money you receive is all yours to keep! 


If only the clothing aspect applies to you, please see: 


      What Next?
      Please be patient.  HMRC can take up to 3 months to process the rebates.  If you have not heard anything from them after that time, you can contact them on the Employee Helpline number: 0300 200 3300



       If you do send a letter off, please do let me know how you get on by leaving a  comment below.  Good luck!


© Pennies 4 Parents July 2015