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Qualifying for SMP

Employees continuously employed for at least 26-weeks, at the end of their qualifying week, and that are still employed during that week, will qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP), providing that:

1- They are still pregnant 11 weeks before the start of the EWC, or have already given birth;

2- They have provided a MATB1 form stating their EWC; and

3- Their average weekly earnings are not less than the LEL for NICs.

SMP is payable for up to 39 weeks, with the first six weeks payable at 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings.

The remaining 33 weeks is payable at a rate set by the Government for the relevant tax year, or at 90% of the employee's average weekly earnings, if this figure is lower than the Government's set weekly rate.

SMP is treated as earnings and is subject to PAYE and NI deductions.

If the employee becomes eligible for a pay rise between the start of the original calculation period and the end of maternity leave (whether OML or AML), the higher or standard rate of SMP will be recalculated to take account of the rise, regardless of whether SMP has already been paid.

This means the employee's SMP will be recalculated and increased retrospectively, or that they may qualify for SMP if they did not before.

The employee will be paid a lump sum to make up any difference between SMP already paid and the amount payable as a result of the pay rise.

Payment of SMP cannot start prior to the 11th week before the employee's expected week of childbirth. It can start from any day of the week in accordance with the date the employee starts their maternity leave.

SMP is payable whether or not the employee intends to return to work after their maternity leave.

Employees who are not entitled to SMP may be entitled to receive maternity allowance which is payable directly by the Government.

If an employee is not entitled to SMP, you should provide the employee with a copy of the form SMP1 to allow them to pursue a claim for maternity allowance.

Quick Reference FAQs

Q. How Much Is SSP?

A. In the first 6 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay, eligible employees can receive 90% of their average weekly earnings and then 90% of their weekly average earnings (or £151.20 and £151.97 for 2021/22) after that. Use the SMP calculator to work out an employee’s maternity leave and pay.

Q. How Long Is Maternity Leave?

A. Maternity leave adds up to 52 weeks in total. This does not have to be taken completely, however an employee must take 2 weeks’ leave (4 weeks if working in a factory) after their child is born.

Q. What Are An Employee's Maternity Rights?

A. Whilst on Maternity Leave and receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, an employee’s employment rights are protected. Employees have rights to pay rises, accrue of holiday and return to work.

Q. In what circumstances would an employee not qualify for SMP?

A. An employee would not qualify for SMP if they did not provide the correct notice (a minimum of 15 weeks before the due date and 28 days when they would like it to start), if they have not worked a minimum of 26 weeks consistently for the employer (until the qualifying week), if they have not provided supporting proof that they are pregnant, or if they earn less than £120 a week.

Q. What Is A Qualifying Week In SMP Terms?

A. The ‘Qualifying Week’ is the 15th week before the week of the baby’s projected birth.

Q. What Is The Relevant Period In SMP?

A. To work out an employee’s ‘Relevant Period’ you need to work out when this ends first. The ‘Relevant Period’ starts:

1 day following the last pay day (at least 8 weeks before the end of the relevant period) and ends on the last payday on/before the Saturday of the qualifying week.

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