Statutory Maternity Pay: What Does It Mean?

Maternity pay

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is a provision by the UK Government given to employees who are on maternity leave for up to 39 weeks. The statutory maternity pay will start rolling out once your employees start their statutory maternity leave.

Generally, employees are able to get maternity leave for up to a maximum period of 52 weeks. Within the time period of 52 weeks, it is split up into 2 timeframes :

  • First 26 weeks: Ordinary Maternity Leave
  • Consequent weeks: Additional Maternity Leave

Types Of Maternity Pay

There are mainly 2 types of maternity pay that you might be eligible for :

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
  • Contractual Maternity Pay/Enhanced Maternity Pay

Contractual Maternity Pay is a little bit more complicated as the terms will be a little bit different. Take a look at your contract or ask your employer about it.

Enhanced Maternity Pay is offered by some private sectors that pays out a higher amount than SMPs.

An Alternative To SMP – Maternity Allowance

Not eligible for both? Don’t worry, there is another option you might be eligible for, which is Maternity Allowance. This allowance is for employees who are self-employed, recently lost their work, or engaging in unpaid work.

You are allowed to claim Maternity Allowance up to 39 weeks and you can get them as early as 11 weeks before the baby is due.

Qualifications To Become A Beneficiary Of Statutory Maternity Pay

There are a few conditions to be met to qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay :

  • Earning at least £123 per week on average
  • Proof of Pregnancy
  • Proper and Correct Notice given to employers
  • Worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks (before the 15th week of the baby’s due date)

How Much Are You Paid?

Statutory maternity pay will pay an eligible employee up to a maximum period of 39 weeks. It means that you might not be able to be paid throughout your maternity leave period.

The payment structure is as below :

First Six Weeks

For the first six weeks, you will get 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax

Consequent Weeks

You’ll be either getting £156.66 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings. The decision between the two is based on whichever is lower.

What If I’m on Shared Parental Leave?

If you’re on shared parental leave, you’ll be eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay. The payment structure is as below

  • £156.66 per week/90% of your average weekly earnings

Do take note that the decision between the two is whichever is lower.

How Are They Paid?

The Statutory Maternity Pay will pay you based on the method you receive your wages, either monthly or weekly. However, do note that the tax and national insurance will be deducted from the pay.

Side Note: Even if you are having more than one baby, the maternity pay remains the same.

Still unclear of how much are you getting paid? Head on to the maternity pay calculator on the UK Government website.

Your payroll company will be able to advise you on what to pay.

What If The UK Government Changes The Rate?

If you are an ongoing beneficiary of the statutory maternity pay, any changes made will be effective from the effective date stated by the UK Government. However, the maternity pay rates are only increasing each year, so there’s nothing to worry about.

Maternity Pay Timeframe

The maternity pay can start earlier or later, depending on the situation. The Statutory Maternity Pay starts when :

  • The day your maternity leave starts
  • The day after you have your baby (If you’re not getting maternity leave)
  • Fell sick from 4 weeks time of your baby’s due date

However, there are some conditions that you need to take note of, which are :

  • You can’t get the maternity pay 11 weeks before the baby is due
  • Statutory maternity pay will end either after 39 weeks or the day you get back to work (whichever is earlier).

Unexpected Events

If there are some unexpected events such as:

  • Early births
  • Stillborn (After being pregnant for more than 24 weeks)
  • Death of the baby after being born

You are still qualified and will continue to be a beneficiary of Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Maternity Leave.

Does The Statutory Maternity Pay Apply To Adoptions?

No, it does not. For situations such as adoption or surrogacy, you can apply for Statutory Adoption Pay or Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

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