Calculating SMP statutory maternity pay: ask the experts

My employers are calculating my maternity pay from the 15th week before my baby is due and eight weeks back. Can I confirm it is the payslips they look at so not what I actually worked in the qualifying weeks?

 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 the next month but double the month after. So has this effected my SMP because if they look how much I received into my bank in those two months it was only the one payment for one month’s work.

Mother with baby working on laptop


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.

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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 one month and none the month before 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, cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific legal advice.

Comments [1]


    I am due to go on maternity leave on the 2nd May. My first 6 weeks are 90% of my pay and then usual statutory after that. My accounts department have worked out my 90% pay for those 6 weeks after taking off pension contributions and childcare vouchers. Surely my 90% weekly pay would be based on my gross annual salary divided by 52?
    I don’t pay pension contributions while Im on mat leave and my work pay for the childcare vouchers.
    many thanks

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