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I am planning to resign from my current employer before my due date and give birth abroad. Will I still be entitled to SMP? What is the difference between being employed and getting SMP and resigning and getting SMP and what would be my best option if I want to go abroad as soon as possible. Would I still get my SMP? I don’t mind not being paid for 1-2 months and taking time off sick or unpaid leave.
All employees with at least 26 weeks’ service by the “qualifying week” are entitled to SMP whether or not their employment then continues beyond this week. The “qualifying week” is 15 weeks before the “expected week of childbirth”. You must have worked at least one day in the “qualifying week” to receive SMP, but provided you do, your entitlement does not stop simply because you have resigned your employment. Entitlement to and payment of SMP would be the same as if you were still employed, though your employer might want to make a lump sum payment for convenience.
It is not clear whether or not moving abroad would affect your entitlement. SMP is technically a benefit, albeit one paid by your employer, so your eligibility is determined by the relevant government regulations, not your employer’s rules. Ordinarily, only returning to work with the same or a different employer would bring your entitlement to SMP to an end. However, you might want to check with HMRC whether no longer being resident in the UK would mean that you are not entitled to SMP.
If you were to leave the UK before your qualifying week, you would only be entitled to SMP if you remained employed. You are only likely to be able to take sick leave if you are able to supply “fit notes” to your employer confirming the reason for absence. You may or may not be entitled to sick pay during this period. A period of unpaid leave would have to be negotiated with your employer. Your pay in the months running up to the “qualifying week” determines the entitlement to and payment of SMP, so any period of reduced or no pay could significantly affect your entitlement.