NI17A - A guide to Maternity Benefits
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
How SMP is paid
It is intended that SMP should be paid in the same way and at the same time as your normal wages would be paid. SMP is a weekly rate but your employer does not have to pay you weekly. If your wage is normally paid monthly, your employer can pay you SMP monthly with an adjusting payment for any odd days.
Or your employer may split your weekly payments of SMP over different pay periods, if this fits better with the way your employer normally pays you.
Your SMP can be paid to you through an insurance company, friendly society, payroll service or other third party if you wish, but your employer must make sure that all the necessary income tax and NI deductions are made.
Your employer cannot pay you SMP in kind, or as board and lodging, or by way of a service. Your employer can pay SMP as a lump sum, as long as the rules for paying NI contributions are obeyed. But if you are paid SMP in a lump sum you and your employer could pay more in NI contributions than if you are paid monthly or weekly.
If you have a salary sacrifice agreement with your employer your employer will work out the SMP payable to you based on your earnings which count for NI contributions. Your employer must then pay the SMP due to you in full. SMP cannot be further reduced by the terms of a salary sacrifice arrangement which runs during your maternity pay period.
Your employer may however make deductions from your SMP, for example tax, NI contributions, trade union subscriptions and pension contributions.
When SMP ends
Your SMP must end when your employer has paid you SMP for 39 weeks.
But it can end earlier than this if after the baby is born but before the end of the maternity pay period, you work for an employer who did not employ you in the qualifying week. Your employer will not pay you any more SMP and must stop paying SMP to you from the week you started work. It is your responsibility to tell the employer paying you SMP about your new job. You must do this as soon as possible, and make sure you return any SMP payment you get that covers the week you started work and any part of the period after you resumed work.
You must also let the employer paying you SMP know if, at any time during the MPP, you are taken into legal custody. Your employer will no longer pay you SMP from the week in which you were taken into legal custody.
In both of the above circumstances, SMP will stop. But you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.
SMP also ends if you die. It cannot be paid to your family.