Pregnant while on maternity leave: ask the expert

I have just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant due in February 2010. I am on maternity leave due to go back to work on 1st September. I get paid on the 25th of each month. Which month’s pay will be used to calculate the next maternity pay?

Baby in front of laptop


The “relevant period” for calculating Statutory Maternity Pay is the two-month period between 23 weeks to 15 weeks before EWC [expected week of confinement, ie the birth].

I have done a rough calculation and if you were 6 weeks’ pregnant in mid June then your relevant period would be approximately 4th September to 16th October.

Your average wages for that period should be used to calculate SMP and by this time it appears you will be back at work and therefore should earn more than the lower earnings limit of £95 per week.

In the unlikely event that you are not eligible for SMP you should still be entitled to Maternity Allowance.

Answer by Helen Climance

Comments [9]

  • Lisa says:

    I’m currently getting maternity allowance as I wasn’t at my job longer to get maternity pay through them. My money stops in August but not due back till November I’ve just found out I’m 5 weeks pregnant with second baby which would be due January feburay next year. How long do i need to be no to receive maternity money and would I get money from my job or from the government again ?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      To qualify for SMP you would need to have earned an average of at least £113 a week in the eight weeks leading up to the 26th week of your pregnancy. If that is not the case, you can apply for MA. For that you need to have been employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks and to have earned at least £30 a week in any 13 weeks during those 66 weeks. You need to claim this via your local JobCentre Plus.

  • Natalia Dowds says:

    Hi, I’ve a question, I was on maternity leave and my wee girl is now 9months old, while on maternity leave I fell pregnant, I went back to work in August but had told them about my pregnancy, I had pelvic girdle pain in last pregnancy and also in this one, I’m now on crutches and I’ve been sending in sick lines with pregnancy issues stated on it, however I’ve been off since August because of the pain, I have three wee ones at home so staying in bed is not an option, how will this effect my maternity pay, I’m careworker and the work is too heavy for me at moment, how will this effect my maternity pay, I’ve also enquired about any holidays I may have but they say I don’t have any as I was on maternity then on sick leave, can someone please help me out cos I’m very confused by it all.

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Natalia,
      In terms of maternity pay, you would need to be earning an average of at least £112 a week in the eight weeks leading up to the end of the 26th week of your pregnancy to qualify for SMP. So if you were on sick pay or the unpaid part of maternity leave in this period that will have reduced your average pay in this period and may put you under the threshold for SMP. However, if you don’t qualify for SMP you should be able to apply for Maternity Allowance through your local JobCentre Plus. To be eligible for this you need to be employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks leading up to your due date and to earn £30 in any 13 weeks during the 66-week period. With regard to holiday, you continue to accrue holiday in the normal way while you are on maternity leave.

  • Dee says:

    I am on maternity leave and resuming work in about a months time. I have just been offered another job in Nhs my previous was Nhs but different trust.
    Will I have to pay my maternity if I go take the offer in a bee trust? Again I have just realised I am about 4 weeks pregnant will I qualify for maternity pay in the new trust if I start in March .

    Editor: You would need to check your maternity pay contract about whether you have to pay back enhanced pay if you move to a different employer. For the purposes of SMP a different trust would be considered a different employer, even though it is still NHS – see If you are already pregnant before you start your new job, you would not qualify for SMP, but you should qualify for Maternity Allowance. If they offer enhanced pay you would need to check their maternity pay policy.

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm curently 3 months into my maternity leave but plan not to return to the company once my maternity pay finishes in september 2014 due to it being 50 miles away.I have been employed there for 6 years. My baby was conceieved by IVF and we wish to try the process again , if this works I could be pregnant again in August 2014. I will more likely join an agency and work as a temp from October once I have officially left my current employer. Will I be entitled to SMP from the agency I start working for or will I be entitled to maternity allowence? Does being on maternity leave with my current employer count as employment for the 66 week rule?

    Editor: You would only get SMP from any new employer if you were not pregnant when you joined and remained there until at least the 26th week of your pregnancy. Otherwise you could apply for MA – you only need to employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks so maternity leave counts. However, you would need to have been earning over £30 a week in any 13-week period within those 66 weeks.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am self employed and receiving SMA. I became pregnant whilst on maternity leave. Do I qualify for any help? I have been paying my class 2 nics continuously throughout by direct debit.

    Editor: To get this benefit you must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 week period ending with the week before your expected week of confinement. In addition, your earnings on average must be at least equal to the Maternity Allowance Threshold of £30.00 a week. Contributions must be paid, at the latest, before the end of the second tax year after the year in which they were due. If you are not sure whether you have paid enough contributions, contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus.

  • Anonymous says:

    I went off on mat leave 7th Jan and was told I was entitled to 6 months smp and 6 months unpaid leave. In June I asked my area manager if she could check what my return date was. She told me 7th July. I then took 3 holidays and went back to work. The 3rd week at work the assistant manager told me I was entitled to 9 months smp and 3 months unpaid after she checked with head office. I had been told by my work that I am not entitled to the 6 wks mat leave back that I have lost out on as it was my choice to return. I only returned as I was told July and thought I would no longer be paid. Why would I take 3 weeks holiday if I could still be on mat leave. My work are apparently paying my smp, but I haven't been in to collect a payslip. Surely I am entitled to my 6 wks back. I am so upset and not ready to return. (Doesn't help I've just had surgery either 🙁 )

    Editor: If you have gone back to work your SMP should have stopped from the week you returned. You could try ringing the HMRC's employee enquiry line on 0845 302 1479 for advice about having been given incorrect information about your maternity pay.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am currently on maternity leave receiving smp; my payments stop before the 8 weeks before the 15th week before baby is due. I do not wish to return to work during this time but will I qualify for maternity allowance instead? I've been employed by same employer for last 2 years earning full time wages before I went onto this maternity leave.

    Editor: To qualify for maternity allowance you need to have worked a minimum of 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your due date. Being on paid maternity leave counts for this so you should qualify for MA. However, if you returned to work in the eight-week period before your 26th week you could qualify for SMP as your maternity pay will be based on your average weekly earnings in this period. 


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