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This week’s Knowledge Nugget delves into the topic of Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave.  For a small employer this can be a daunting process as there seem to be many calculations and rules to take into account.  The blog below will help shed some light on the boggling subject, and help you work your way through it.

This is quite a chunky blog, so grab a coffee and some biscuits, and settle down to have your fears dispelled.

Your employee may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Leave and Pay. Remember, some employees won’t qualify for both.

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave your employee must:

  • have an employment contract – it doesn’t matter how long they’ve worked for you.
  • give you the correct notice, which at this time is 15 weeks before the baby is expected. They must tell you the baby’s due date, and when they want to start their maternity leave.

To qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay your employee must:

  • earn on average at least £112* a week
  • give the correct notice – which is a minimum of 15 weeks before the due date
  • give proof they’re pregnant by way of a MATB1 form.
  • have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks up to the ‘qualifying week’, which is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth

Your employee must provide you with a MATB1. This is a form that they will have received from their doctor or midwife, and is the document you require to begin the SMP and Maternity Leave process. Your employee will not be provided with this document before the 20th week of their pregnancy.

Within 28 days of being advised of the pregnancy, you must advise your employee in writing of the dates their Maternity Leave will begin and end, how much SMP they are entitled to, and when that will start and stop.

 Statutory Maternity Leave – The Details

Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It is made up of 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave, followed by 26 weeks of Additional Maternity Leave.

Employees that have given birth are not required to take all 52 week, but are required to take a minimum of 2 weeks after the birth, or 4 weeks if they are working in a factory.

In ordinary circumstances, the earliest an employee’s leave can begin is 11 weeks before the due date.  If the baby is born early, leave will begin the day after the birth. If your employee is off work with a pregnancy related illness in the four weeks before the week that the baby is due, the maternity leave begins automatically.

If your employee wants to change their return to work date, they must give at least 8 weeks notice.

Statutory Maternity Pay – The Details

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for 39 weeks. For the first 6 weeks your employee is entitled to 90% of their average weekly earnings. For the following 33 weeks they are entitled to £139.58* or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).  Statutory Maternity Pay is paid in the same way as salary or wages, and is liable to deductions of tax and NI if applicable.

Statutory Maternity Pay begins when the employees Maternity Leave begins, or if there leave begins automatically due to pregnancy related illness as mentioned above, the SMP begins at the same time.

To claim both SML and SMP the employee must advise you of the pregnancy.

  • To claim SML the employee must advise you of the due date, and give a minimum of 15 weeks notice of the date they want their leave to start.  You can ask for this in writing.
  • To claim SMP the employee will need to give at least 28 days that they want their maternity pay to begin.  You then have 28 days to give written confirmation of their pay entitlement and when it will start and end.  This timescale requirement is much shorter as the employee will have advised you of the due date earlier to qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave.  If your decide your employee is not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay you must give them a SMP1 form within 7 days of the decision, which will notify them formally and allow you to explain why.

Proof of pregnancy is given by either providing you with the MATB1 form that the employee has received from their doctor or midwife.  Alternatively they will may have a letter.  A MATB1 will be issued no sooner than 20 weeks before the due date.


PayrollAbility can define eligibility, leave and  calculate pay for your employee.  Additionally we will  generate the letter you are required to give to your employee confirming Leave and SMP, manage the payroll requirements and reclaim your SMP from HMRC. Speak to us today about what impact Maternity Pay and Leave will have on your business, and how we can help you manage the process.

*These amounts are correct for the 2015-16 year.