Calculating maternity pay: ask the expert

I am just trying to work out my maternity and have some questions. Can I confirm is it the payslips they look at so what I was paid in certain months? I get paid a month in arrears so is it not what I actually worked in the qualifying weeks?

 Also my timesheet was late getting processed one month due to me being on holiday then my line manager being away. So I did not receive a payment that month but got double the next. So has this affected my SMP?

Maternity Leave


SMP rate is calculated on an employee’s “normal weekly” earnings. This is calculated as a weekly average of total gross earnings from your employer during a particular reference period (the “relevant period”). Usually, the earnings taken into account for monthly paid employees are those set out on the last two payslips before the Qualifying Week (which is the 15th week before your Expected Week of Confinement / Childbirth). Following statutory legislation, the relevant period ends with the last normal pay day on or before the end of the Qualifying Week and begins after the last normal payday at least 8 weeks earlier. Therefore, to find the relevant period:-

  • Take the last normal payday on or before the end of the Qualifying Week. That normal payday is the last day of the relevant period.
  • Count back 8 weeks from that day.
  • Take the last normal payday before that date. The day after that payday is the first day of the relevant period.

If during this 8 week relevant period, an employee worked reduced hours, and thus received reduced pay, this will result in him/her receiving less statutory maternity pay as the “normal weekly earnings” in this 8-week period will have been reduced. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about this.

So, in your case, your employer will base the SMP calculation on the last 2 payslips before the Qualifying Period and being paid in arrears wouldn’t affect this. In terms of the fact that you got double pay in September and none in August due to your employer’s administrative error, then I think you should talk to them about this and point this out since that error should not be allowed to affect your SMP calculation.

SMP is such a complex area and so I would recommend you looking at “NI17A A Guide To Maternity Benefits” which can be found on the Department of Work & Pensions. This goes through SMP in a lot of detail.

Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this answer, workingmums cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.


Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    I hope you can help me on this as I have done a lot of research and could not find specific information regarding Maternity Pay in the Hospitality Industry.
    I have been working in this hotel for nearly seven years as Hostess for a busy restaurant. I am now over 29 weeks pregnant, I have a written contract and even though the hotel does not have a Maternity Scheme, they pay the Statutory Maternity Pay, apparently following the Government regulations…
    My current salary consist of a Basic Pay (£15,225)but the hotel "guarantees" a minimum (18,900)topping up my Basic Pay using Service Charge (SC1) discretionary paid by guests for the service received. SC1 is paid monthly and is a fixed amount (£306,25).
    On top of that SC1, every month, I also get paid a Service Charge 2(SC2), which is variable according to business levels (thanks to this extra money my salary is more attractive)
    So, every month on my payslip I get paid:
    1)Basic Pay £1,268.75
    2)SC1 £306,25
    3)SC2 £ x x x (normally +£700)
    All three amounts are taxable.
    When calculating the first six weeks at 90% of my Maternity Pay, the hotel only considers as gross earnings my Basic Pay and SC1, the guaranteed salary (1,575).
    I tried to get an explanation why SC2 is not taken into account if I have been receiving it for years and also been paying taxes for it. Their reply was: Your MP, the first six weeks at 90%, is calculated on the average earnings over the previous 2 months. This does not include any bonus payment.
    I am still very confused and frustrated as I was counting on this extra amount I have been receiving for years! I would really appreciate a clear explanation. Many thanks!!!

    Editor: SMP is based on a weekly average of your pay [what you actually take home so that includes overtime, etc] in the eight weeks leading up to the 26th of your pregnancy.

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