What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

Definition of Statutory Maternity Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is an employee benefit that’s part of the parental leave provision in the UK. If you’re eligible for it, SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks when you start your maternity leave.

You’ll receive 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first six weeks. For the next 33 weeks, you’ll get £172.48 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Eligible employees can take up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, with the first 26 weeks known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and the last 26 weeks as ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.

SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (e.g. monthly or weekly), with tax and National Insurance deducted. Certain types of employees, such as agency workers, have different rules for entitlement. If you’re self-employed you’re not eligible for SMP, however, there is the option of maternity allowance.

If you’re planning to claim SMP, you must tell your employer when the baby is due and your proposed start date for maternity leave at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected. Start and leave dates must be confirmed by your employer in writing within 28 days.

Disclaimer: The content included in this glossary is based on our understanding of tax law at the time of publication. It may be subject to change and may not be applicable to your circumstances, so should not be relied upon. You are responsible for complying with tax law and should seek independent advice if you require further information about the content included in this glossary. If you don't have an accountant, take a look at our directory to find a FreeAgent Practice Partner based in your local area.

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