Maternity Rights Part 2 - Money
I am working and now pregnant. What Maternity money might I be able to get?
You may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Contractual Maternity Pay, both paid by your employer.
Statutory Maternity Pay is the legal minimum amount and Contractual Maternity Pay can be above that. Your contract or work handbook should tell you if there is any arrangement for Contractual Maternity Pay.
How do I know if I am eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)?
It is paid if you are in work in the 15th week before the baby is due and have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before that. Also, your average gross pay has to be at least £120 per week (average pay is worked out over the 8 weeks finishing about 15 weeks before the due date.). This is the assessment period.
Agency workers, whilst not entitled to Maternity Leave, may be entitled to SMP.
What do I have to do to claim it?
Firstly, tell your employer that you are pregnant, preferably in email or letter (keeping a copy). Then confirm pregnancy with a MAT B1 certificate or a letter from your doctor / midwife usually given at around 20 weeks. Next, give your employer at least 28 days’ notice of when you wish your payment to start - probably about the same time as maternity leave,
How do I claim Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP)?
It is basically the same route as for SMP, but check your contract/handbook. Do be aware that you may be asked to repay some if you do not return to work.
How much is Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and how long does it last?
SMP lasts up to 39 weeks, but it will end if you return to work before then. It is made up of 6 weeks at 90% of your weekly gross pay and then 33 weeks at either £151.97 per eek , or the 90% of average weekly pay - whichever is less. You may need to pay some tax or NI contributions on it.
Whilst SMP normally starts when you take your leave, it can begin sooner if you become ill due to the pregnancy in the 4 weeks before the expected date of delivery.
Can I work at all whilst claiming Statutory Maternity Pay?
You can be paid for up to 10 “Keeping in touch” days whilst taking time off. If you do more than 10, your SMP would be cut. Such days can be any time excluding the 2 weeks after the birth (4 weeks if in factory work). These days must be arranged in agreement with your employer, and neither of you can demand them
What if I am working but do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Contractual Maternity Pay?
You may be able to claim Maternity Allowance, which is a benefit paid by the government. This is paid to those only recently working or in self-employment. It is also paid if you are working unpaid for a spouse/civil partner in their business.
What is the criteria to be eligible for Maternity Allowance?
To qualify, an employment test period of 66 weeks ending immediately before the due date is considered. You must have been employed or self-employed for any of those 26 weeks, not necessarily in a row and employment for part of a week will count as a whole week.
You must meet the earning conditions - average gross weekly pay must be equal to, or above, £33 pw over 13 weeks. You must not be eligible for SMP and must still be pregnant or have given birth to a live baby by the start of the 11th week before the expected due date ( or given birth to a still born baby after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy).
How long is Maternity Allowance paid?
Up to 39 weeks though only 14 if you are an unpaid helper in a business of spouse /civil partner. MA can be extended if the baby is born late. If baby is born more than 11 weeks early, it begins the day after the birth. If the baby is born after the 11th week before due date but before the date of planned leave, MA is paid if already claimed.
When do I claim Maternity Allowance?
It should be claimed on or after the 14th week before the due date. You can claim with a MA 1 form, available from antenatal clinics, benefit offices or by phoning Jobcentre Plus 0800 055 6688. The MA1 is also available on GOV.UK website @www.gov.co.uk. - An online application will need to be printed off to be signed and then should be sent off with a maternity certificate / letter from your doctor./ midwife. There is also an online calculator on GOV.UK.
What if my employer refuses to pay me SMP?
An employer should issue you with an SMP 1 form within 7 days of refusing any SMP and within 28 days of your leave date. If no form is forthcoming, then you can contact HMRC statutory disputes team on 0300 322 9422. You can also contact them if you feel you should qualify. They can fine your employer if they do not pay when they should, and HMRC will pay you directly. If HMRC is hard to contact, try National Insurance enquiries 0300.200.3500.
You may also be entitled to benefits so visit our Moneymap.scot or get in touch.
All the above is complex, so please do seek further advice from Perth CAB,. This applies especially to agency workers and the self-employed…. but it is not an easy area for anybody!
More next time on Paternity Rights…