One thing you shouldn’t have to worry about when you’ve just had a baby is money, so it’s definitely important to make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to, whether it’s from your employer or the state.
You’re entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) as long as you earn at least an average of £112 per week and have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before your baby is due.
However, while you can stay on maternity leave for a generous 52 weeks, your employer doesn’t have to pay you anything after 39 weeks, so it’s important to consider how this will affect your finances.
SMP also decreases over your maternity leave. During the first six weeks, you’re entitled to 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings before tax. However, for the following 33 weeks, you’re only entitled to £139.58 or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings – whichever is lower – with tax and National Insurance deducted.
You can work out how much you’re entitled to with the Government’s handy online calculator. However, this is the bare minimum – if you’re lucky, your employer may offer a more generous package, so check your contract.
To receive maternity pay, you must give your employer at least 28 days’ notice before the date you want to go on leave. You also need to provide proof that you’re pregnant, in the form of a letter from your doctor or midwife or an MATB1 certificate. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much you’ll get, and the dates it will start and stop.
However, if your employer says you’re not entitled to SMP, they must explain their decision within seven days of making it. If you disagree, contact the HM Revenue and Customs employees’ enquiry line.
If you’re eligible for SMP, you’re eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) as long as your partner has worked for 26 weeks out of the 66 before the baby is due, and has earned at least £390 in total in 13 of those 66 weeks. This could have been as an employee, worker or self-employed person, and the weeks don’t have to have been in a row.
If you’re sharing your leave with your partner, this will affect how much you get as it’s calculated according to which parent is on leave so, again, it’s something to consider in advance.
Don’t worry, if you’re not eligible for SMP, you could get the Maternity Allowance from the Government. You can claim it at 26 weeks into your pregnancy and payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due. How much you get and how long you get it for will depend on your eligibility.
You’ll also be able to get Child Benefit, which is £20.70 per week for your first child and £13.70 for additional children. This is tax-free as long as you and your partner earn less than £50,000 each. And depending on your financial circumstances, you may be entitled to other maternity benefits, too.
* Please note that we cannot always reflect all current legal information across all points, but you can always consult your local government websites for more information such as https://www.gov.uk/browse/childcare-parenting