Pregnancy and the birth of your baby are extremely exciting and momentous periods in any person’s life. However, this significant time doesn’t come without its stresses. Expecting mothers have to stop working while suddenly having higher bills than before.
Thankfully, maternity pay helps to bridge the gap. But how much maternity leave pay are you entitled to? Whether you are an employee who wants to understand what you can expect from your maternity leave pay, or an employer responsible for calculating maternity pay, this blog is for you.
Who Qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay?
To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, a woman must have worked for at least 26 weeks by the end of “Qualifying Week’. Qualifying week is 15 weeks before the baby’s due date. This means that, in order to be entitled to SMP, you must have worked in your current position for at least 41 weeks.
How to Calculate Maternity Leave Pay
You will be paid 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks of your maternity leave. This is followed by another 33 weeks of 90% of your average weekly earnings, or the applicable statutory rate, which varies each year. Whichever is lowest is what will be used.
Your average weekly earnings will be based on the period of eight weeks running up to the qualifying week. If this falls below the lower earnings limit, then you will not qualify for SMP but may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA).
When Do You Need to Give Notice for Maternity Leave?
You must give your employer notice of your intention to take maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby’s due date. During this meeting or notice, give your employer your MAT B1 maternity certificate to claim SMP. At this point, you will also inform your employer of when you want to start maternity leave.
When Can You Start Maternity Leave?
You can start your maternity leave with pay from week 29 of your pregnancy. You may also be able to start shared parental leave from week 34 of your pregnancy, though not everyone is entitled to this.
When you take your maternity leave, it is up to you to decide if you want a longer period of leave before your baby’s birth or a longer period of time to care for your baby.
That said, if you are absent from work for any pregnancy-related reason, your employer can begin your maternity leave and pay. This is also applicable if you are absent for any reason in the four weeks leading up to your due date.
The day after you give birth is the latest you can start your maternity leave and pay if you have not already stopped working. This applies even if the baby is born early.
What Else Are You Entitled to With Maternity Leave?
In the UK, employees are protected from discrimination based on their gender and have a number of rights. With all businesses having a duty of care to pregnant employees, here is what you are entitled to besides maternity leave and pay:
- An employee has the right to return to either their original job or be offered a suitable alternative
- Pregnant employees can take up to 52 weeks of maternity leave
- 39 of these weeks could be paid using either statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or contractual maternity pay
- Reasonable time off must be provided for antenatal care
- You may not be discriminated against for any reason related to your pregnancy
Do You Need to Track Maternity Leave?
If you are an employer or an HR expert, we can help your business to keep track of maternity leave. Natural HR enables you to seamlessly track many different types of absence, including maternity leave.