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Maternity allowance guide

Women make up nearly half of the UK workforce and more than 80% will become mothers. Employers should have an up-to-date understanding of maternity rights including Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance to allow for the fair, legal treatment of the parent-to-be.

Pregnant workers are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, and must take two weeks of compulsory leave (or four weeks if they work in a factory).

Statutory Maternity Pay

If an employee has been working for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before their due date, they are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is paid by the employer for a maximum of 39 weeks. SMP has some factors for employers to think about, including:

  • A worker must request SMP at least 4 weeks before stopping work
  • SMP can start 11 weeks before the baby is due or the day after birth
  • Tax and National Insurance are typically paid
  • The first six weeks will be 90% of a weekly wage
  • The following 33 weeks can remain at 90% or that year’s maternity base rate

Maternity Allowance

If a worker does not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, whether they are on a low income or have just started working at a business, they may be able to claim Maternity Allowance.

An employer should provide a pregnant worker with an SMP exclusion form (SMP1) on which they highlight the reasons for not being able to give Statutory Maternity Pay, allowing the employee to qualify for the allowance.

This benefit is paid by the government for a maximum of 39 weeks. Similar to SMP, workers can claim 11 weeks before the due date, and it is often based on 90% of a person’s weekly earnings. However, Maternity Allowance is tax free and National Insurance credits will be provided.

Regardless of whether a worker qualifies for Statutory Maternity Leave or Maternity Allowance, they are entitled to paid time off for antenatal care, Statutory Maternity Leave and protection from unfair treatment, discrimination and dismissal.

Linder Myers can provide further employment law advice on maternity rights so that you can rest assured that your procedures are reasonable and lawful, protecting workers from inconvenience and unfair conduct while safeguarding your business from possible claims.

Contact us on 0844 984 6444 to find out more about the employment law guidance we are able to provide to companies across the UK.

Disclaimer: The information provided was correct at the time of writing but may have undergone changes following this point.

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