NI17A - A guide to Maternity Benefits
Introduction to maternity benefits
There are two maternity benefits available to women under the social security scheme:
- Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer and
- Maternity Allowance (MA) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Jobcentre Plus.
Both types of payment are intended to help you take time off work both before and after the date your baby is due. You cannot get both at the same time.
Statutory Maternity Pay is a weekly payment that you may be able to get from your employer. You must meet qualifying conditions based on the length of your employment with your employer and how much you earn. The amount of SMP you get also depends on how much you earn.
If you cannot get SMP, you may be able to get:
Maternity Allowance from Jobcentre Plus. MA is a weekly payment that you may be able to get if you have been employed or self-employed for some of the time during and before you became pregnant and your earnings for part of that time were at least £30 a week.
If you are not entitled to get either SMP or MA, you may be able to get some Employment and Support Allowance instead.
If you or your partner are getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Pension Credit, Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the family element or Working Tax Credit where a disability or severe disability element is included in the award, you may be able to get a Sure Start Maternity Grant from the Social Fund.
Pregnant employees and parents are entitled to other employment rights. Some of these rights are summarised below. You will find more information about these rights from GOV.UK
All pregnant employees are entitled to 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave whether or not they qualify for SMP or MA. Additional Maternity Leave starts immediately after Ordinary Maternity Leave so women have 52 weeks maternity leave in total.
Parental leave is a right to take unpaid time off work to look after a child up to the child’s fifth birthday (or 18th birthday for disabled children) or make arrangements for the child’s welfare. The right applies to mothers and fathers and to a person who has obtained formal parental responsibility for a child.
Paternity Leave and Pay
Employees may have a right to one or two weeks paternity leave and Statutory Paternity Pay so that they can take time off work to care for the baby or support the mother following birth. To get this the employee must be either the baby’s biological father or the partner of the mother, and take responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
Time off for dependants
Employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of time off work to deal with certain unexpected emergencies involving a dependant.
The right to request flexible working
Parents of children under the age of 17 or a disabled child under 18 who receives Disability Living Allowance have the right to request flexible working patterns. Employers are required to give such requests serious consideration and may only turn down such requests if they follow a set procedure and are able to justify the decision.