Maternity & Paternity Pay

Statutory Maternity (SMP) and Paternity Pay (SPP) are paid through your employer to help you financially for up to 39 weeks of your Maternity and Paternity Leave 

You need to have worked for your employer since before your pregnancy began. If you havent then check out the guide to Maternity Allowance

Your employer may run a different Maternity scheme, with higher payments, check your contract so you know what you are entitled to. Our guide is about the minimum legal requirements


Need to know

  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid through your employer in the same way that they pay your wages, they are reimbursed by the government
  • It can be paid for up to 39 weeks.  The first 6 weeks you’ll get 90% of your normal weekly wage. For the following 33 weeks it will change to £136.78 a week or remain at 90% of your wage if that is Iower
  • Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay is paid to the biological father or mother’s partner (including same sex couples and adoptive parents). It is also £138.18 a week or 90% of their weekly wage, whichever is lower, and can be taken for a period of up to two weeks
  • QUALIFYING WEEK. To be eligible for Maternity and Paternity pay you need have worked for your employer from the week before your pregnancy starts 
  • You need to have been earning at least £111 a week to eligible- if you earn less have a look at Maternity Allowance
  • Use a doctor’s letter or a MATB1 certificate which you can get from your GP or midwife 21 weeks into your pregnancy to prove your due date
  • Maternity Leave/Pay Deadline- 15 weeks before your due date you need to have informed your employer when you would like your Maternity Leave to start. You can change your mind by giving 28 days notice. You need to give 28 days notice for when you would like your Statutory Maternity Pay to start
  • Paternity Leave/Pay Deadline- is also 15 weeks before the baby is due
  • Tax and national insurance will be deducted from your payments

Maternity Leave and Your Job

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML): Every female employee is entitled to 26 weeks of Ordinary Maternity Leave. If you return to work after OML your employer must give you back the same job that you left. During these 26 weeks your employment terms and conditions are protected- you will continue to receive your pension and to build up holiday entitlement and holiday pay
  • Additional Maternity Leave: Is a further 26 weeks that most female employees (excluding police and HM forces) are entitled to. Again your employment terms and conditions are protected. 39 weeks in total are paid leave but If you choose to take the full year of leave the final 13 weeks will be unpaid , including contributions to your pension, so it is worth saving if you know you want to do this
  • If you return to work after or during Additional Maternity Leave your employer must give you the same job or one with the same or better terms and conditions
  • Compulsory Maternity Leave: Maternity Leave is optional. The only leave you HAVE to take is the two weeks after your baby is born, (four weeks if you work in a factory)
  • Returning: if you return to work early, including after Ordinary Maternity Leave you must give your employer 8 weeks notice. After Additional Maternity Leave your employment rights are generally no longer protected unless you have a contract with your employer that states otherwise. You are not obliged to return to the employer that has paid your SMP but will have to go through the proper resignation process
  • Parental Leave: all parents are entitled to 13 weeks of unpaid leave from their child's birth to their 5th birthday. This is generally limited to 4 weeks a year but may be adjusted if you speak to your employer

If you need to know more

  • There is a maternity pay calculator which shows you how much you should be entitled to in under a minute. You just need to know when you started your job, your wage and your due date


Citizens Advice Bureau

Why we like it:

  • all the information you need about pay and leave
  • advice on your legal rights at work
  • for advice in England you can call 08444 111 444
  • for advice in Wales you can call 08444 77 20 20
  • from an English and Welsh mobile call 03003 300 650
  • you can visit a centre for free face to face advice

Watch out:

  • a HUGE site full of information
  • calls cost 5p a minute and the service isn’t currently available for all areas of England
  • parents in Northern Ireland should visit
  • parents in Scotland should visit


Why we like it:

  • clear guides to leave entitlements and pay
  • tools to work out what you are entitled to

Watch out:

  • no advice on discrimination

The inside track

  • Additional Statutory Paternity Pay means the father or partner of the mother can apply for up to 26 weeks extra paid leave INSTEAD OF the mother taking maternity pay. The same rules as SMP apply- this will be £136.78 a week or 90% of their weekly wage whichever is lower. They can also work the ‘Keeping in Touch’ days and return to the same job that they left
  • Adoptive mothers are entitled to Adoption Leave and fathers to SPP.  terms and conditions are the same as SMP and SPP
  • Your SMP will start automatically the day after you take a pregnancy related sick day in the last four weeks of your pregnancy
  • The time periods and payments mentioned above are the legal minimum. Some employers offer much more flexibility

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