A guide to Maternity Allowance

Pregnant woman working at home

 

Alongside the excitement of a new baby, you need to feel financially secure and know exactly what you’re entitled to be paid during your maternity leave. This guide will help you.

Just as a quick recap – there are three types of maternity pay that might be available to you:
1. Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer.
2. Maternity Allowance (MA) from the Government, if you’re not entitled to SMP.
3. Employment Support Allowance, if you’re not entitled to SMP or MA.

This article will focus on Maternity Allowance. For a comprehensive guide on SMP click here.

So why can’t I get SMP?

– You haven’t been working for the employer for 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week. This is the 15th week
before the expected week of childbirth.
–  You’re self-employed and pay class 2 NI.
–  You have stopped working.

What are my options?

You might be entitled to MA instead.

How long do I get Maternity Allowance for?

39 weeks or 14 weeks.

How do I get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks?

You need to prove that in the 66 weeks before the baby is due you were employed or self employed for at least 26 weeks (known as the Test Period) and earning at least £30 a week for at least 13 weeks – the weeks don’t have to be together.

If you’re self employed, and you haven’t paid enough Class 2 NI you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks.

Remember that you will need to meet all the other eligibility criteria to get this.

…and for 14 weeks?

If you are not employed or self-employed, but you take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner you may be able to get MA for 14 weeks. Have a look below for some further criteria that might help you:

If, for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due:
– You’re married or in a civil partnership
– You’re not employed or self-employed
– You take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
– The work you do is for the business and unpaid
– Your spouse or civil partner is registered as self-employed with HMRC and should pay Class 2
National Insurance
– Your spouse or civil partner is working as self-employed person
– You’re not eligible for SMP or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance (for the same
pregnancy)

If you’re self employed, and you haven’t paid enough Class 2 NI you’ll get £27 a week for 14 weeks.

Remember that you will need to meet all the other eligibility criteria to get this.

How much is MA?

Full MA entitlement is £145.18 a week.

What if I start working for another employer?

If your SMP has stopped because you have started working for an employer outside the qualifying week and you subsequently stop work, you may be able to claim MA.

What if I work for more than one employer?

You may be entitled to SMP from each employer – which means more than one lot of SMP. If you have more than one employer, and you get SMP from one employer but you don’t qualify for SMP with the other employer, you cannot claim MA from the other employer.

What if I am employed AND self employed?

You can get SMP from your employer, you are not entitled to MA for your self-employment. You can still work during your maternity leave as self employed without it affecting your entitlement to SMP.  On the other hand, however, if you are only entitled to MA you can’t do any work during your maternity leave outside 10 Keeping in Touch Days. If you work for any part of the Keeping in Touch Days they will count as a whole day. You can receive payment for these 10 days without losing maternity pay.

What about Employment Support Allowance?

If you cannot get either SMP or MA, you may be able to get Employment and Support Allowance. If you claim MA, your claim will automatically be considered for ESA if your claim for MA is declined.

*Wendy Comerford is Solicitor & Managing Director of employment law specialist WH Legal. Just remember that the content of this document is not a substitute for taking legal advice on your situation. If you need specific advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.


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