Monday, 13 June 2011

Help! I don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Perhaps you don’t qualify for 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

For Employees
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:  

This is a form to apply for Maternity Allowance.  You will need to send in the SMP1 form, MA1 form 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 £128.73.  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 £128.73 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 £2.50 per week).

For more information on Maternity Allowance, please refer to the claim form or

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.
The rates are £53.45 per week for mothers aged 24 or under and £67.50 per week for those aged 25 or over. 
For more information, visit:


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