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 2019-20 weekly rate is £148.68
An employee can choose when to start her SMP, but SMP:
- cannot start before the 11th week before the week the baby is due. Or will start earlier if the baby is born earlier
- may start on any day of the week where the employee continues to be employed by you beyond the 11th week before the baby is due
- will start the day following the birth if the baby is born before SMP was due to start, or before the 11th week
- may start earlier if the employee has a pregnancy-related absence in the 4 weeks before the baby is due
- must start the day after she leaves her employment if she leaves after the start of the 11th week but before the date she chose.
To qualify for SMP the employee must:
- have been continuously employed by the same employer in the 26 weeks going into the Qualifying Week
- still be pregnant at the start of the 11th week before the baby is due, or have had the baby by then
- have AWE which are not less than the lower earnings limit of NICs (currently £118 per week)
- normally give at least 28 days notice before her SMP is due to start
- give medical evidence (usually on form MATB1 Maternity Certificate)
If the employee satisfies all of the qualifying rules, she will qualify for SMP even if she does not intend to return to work for the same employer after the baby is born.