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 2017/2018 is £113 per week or £490 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
If you are paid monthly, the 2 payments are multiplied by 6 to give an annual average.
This is then divided by 52 to find an average weekly amount.
If you are paid weekly, an average of the 8 weeks is used to find the average weekly amount.
How much SMP will I get?
SMP is paid as follows:
6 weeks at 90% of the average weekly amount
followed by 33 weeks at the statutory amount
(for the 2017/2018 tax year this is £140.98 per week)
39 weeks at 90% of your average weekly amount if your average weekly amount is less than £140.98
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 your 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.
information visit: www.gov.uk/maternity-allowance or see our post "Help! I don't qualify for SMP"
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