Statutory maternity pay 2020: How much is statutory maternity pay?

The coronavirus pandemic should not affect your rights to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) in any way, and you should still be receiving your money. As long as employees fit all the criteria for SMP, an employer is required by law to pay it, regardless of how their business has been financially affected. brings you a guide on exactly how much you can get.

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

All British employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity pay, and most mothers will qualify for either 39 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance (MA).

Maternity pay is considered a legal right in the UK, and this should not change under any circumstances.

As long as an employee can meet all the requirements for SMP, then their employer is required by law to pay out.


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To qualify for SMP you have to:

  • Be employed by the company, not a freelance or casual worker
  • Earn an average minimum of £118 a week
  • Provide your employer with proof of pregnancy and the correct notice period before childbirth (15th week before the week of the baby’s due date)
  • Have been employed continuously by the same company for at least 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before childbirth


  • Parents with young children could receive free childcare

You will get the same amount of money even if you are pregnant with more than one baby.

If a business is struggling and claims to be unable to fulfil SMP commitments, they are advised to call the HMRC Employers Helpline on 0300 200 3200.

Employees can also claim SMP directly from HMRC without going through their employer.

If you believe you are entitled to SMP but haven’t yet received it, contact HMRC on the employee helpline by calling 0300 200 3500.

For the first six weeks of SMP, your company should pay you 90 percent of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.

After that, you are entitled to SMP, which promises £151.21 or 90 percent of a worker’s weekly wages for the remainder of maternity leave – depending on which is lower.

You may have to pay some tax and national insurance on the SMP.

Your average pay is calculated by including any sick pay, holiday pay, back pay, bonuses, and statuary maternity pay from a previous pregnancy.


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When does maternity pay start and finish?

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, maternity pay starts on the same day as you start your maternity leave.

The Citizens Advice Bureau states: “You can’t get maternity pay while you’re still at work or more than 11 weeks before your due date.

“If you don’t get maternity leave your maternity pay starts the day after you have your baby.

“Your maternity pay could start sooner if you get sick in the four weeks before your baby’s due date.

“SMP can last up to 39 weeks, but it will end sooner if you go back to work before then.”

Part of your SMP is calculated on your average pay.

The Citizens Advice Bureau advises employees to keep their pay as high as possible while your employer calculates the average.

This is most likely to matter if you are in a job where the pay varies, for example those who work for agencies or work in shifts.

Your employer bases your average pay on roughly eight weeks leading up to the 15th week before the due date.

In this time you could think about:

• Cancelling any unpaid leave or time off
• Accepting any additional shifts or hours offered to you, or taking on overtime
• Taking paid holiday for any days when you are off sick, if the sick pay would be less than you would normally earn

Going back to work or starting a new job would normally mean your maternity leave is over, so you are not advised to work while receiving SMP.

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