Maternity Pay

Article Title : Maternity Pay

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Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is paid for 39 weeks and covers the first 39 weeks of an employee’s maternity leave in most circumstances.

Eligibility for SMP

A pregnant employee qualifies for SMP provided she has:

  • been continuously employed by you for at least 26 weeks extending into the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • average weekly earnings (AWE) at or above the lower earnings limit (LEL) for National Insurance contributions (NICs), currently £113
  • provided you with confirmation of her pregnancy; this is normally a form MATB1 or an equivalent document issued by her midwife or GP
  • given you 28 days’ notice of the date from which she wants to start her SMP

SMP rates and recovery

For the first six weeks you must pay your employee SMP at the rate of 90 per cent of her AWE.

For the next 33 weeks you must pay her the lower of the following:

  • the standard weekly rate - £140.98
  • 90 per cent of her AWE

You can recover some or all of your SMP payments from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), this is dependent on the size of your annual NICs liability.