Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid to an employee by their employer in the same way as wages. SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks.
The employer will calculate the SMP entitlement. For the first 6 weeks it will be 90% of the employee’s Average Weekly Earnings (AWE). After that it will be either the weekly standard rate, or 90% of AWE, whichever is less.
The current weekly rate of SMP is £148.68.
Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.
The earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, unless the baby is born early.
Employees must take at least 2 weeks after the birth (or 4 weeks if they’re a factory worker).
SMP for eligible employees can be paid for up to 39 weeks, usually as follows:-
- the first 6 weeks: 90% of their average weekly earnings (AWE) before tax.
- the remaining 33 weeks: £139.58 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower).
Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted.
If the baby is born early leave starts the day after the birth.
The employee must give you the child’s birth certificate or a document signed by a doctor or midwife that confirms the actual date of birth.
You must write to them confirming the new end date for their leave.
To qualify for SMP employees must:-
- be on your payroll in the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
- give you the correct notice.
- give you proof they’re pregnant.
- have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the qualifying week.
- earn at least £118 a week (gross) in an 8-week ‘relevant period’.
You must obtain proof of the pregnancy before you pay SMP. This is usually a doctor’s letter or a maternity certificate (known as an MATB1 certificate). Midwives and doctors usually issue these 20 weeks before the due date.
If the employee satisfies all of the qualifying rules, she will qualify for SMP even if she does not intend to return to work after the baby is born.
An employee can choose when to start her SMP, but:-
• Cannot start SMP before the 11th week before the week the baby is due. SMP will start earlier if the baby is born earlier.
• May start SMP on any day of the week if the employee is employed by you beyond the 11th week before the baby is due.
• Will start SMP the day following the birth if the baby is born before SMP was due to start, or before the 11th week.
• May start SMP earlier if the employee has a pregnancy-related absence in the 4 weeks before the baby is due.
• Must start SMP the day after she leaves her employment if she leaves after the start of the 11th week.
An employee’s employment rights are protected during maternity leave. This includes pay, holidays and returning to a job.
You must keep records of the proof of pregnancy.
More details on Statutory Maternity Pay are available click here.