NI17A - A guide to Maternity Benefits
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
How to get SMP
If you are pregnant and you think you are eligible for SMP from your employer, you must tell your employer that you intend to stop work to have the baby and the day you want your SMP to start. You must also provide your employer with evidence of when your baby is due.
Telling your employer
Most women will be able to take maternity leave from their work. To claim maternity leave you must tell your employer no later than the end of the qualifying week (which is the 15th week before the week in which the baby is due) that you are pregnant and:
- the date you expect your baby
- the date you want to start your maternity leave.
You must give your employer at least 28 days’ notice of the date you want your SMP to start. Your employer may need your notice in writing. You can change your mind about the date but you must give 28 days notice of the new date.
If you can get both maternity leave and SMP it is best to tell your employer the date you want your SMP to start at the same time as you tell your employer about your leave.
If it is not possible to give 28 days’ notice for payment of SMP, you must tell your employer as soon as you can. If your employer considers it was reasonably practicable for you to have given notice earlier than you did, they can refuse to pay you SMP.
If your baby is born prematurely, before you had given notice to your employer, you may still be able to get SMP.
Proving your baby is due
You must give your employer medical evidence of the date your baby is due. This will normally be on a maternity certificate (MATB1) that you can get from your doctor or midwife. You cannot get this certificate until you reach the 20th week before the week in which your baby is due (generally the 21st week of pregnancy). Your doctor or midwife will usually give you the MATB1 at your next ante natal appointment after then.
Your employer may be willing to accept other medical evidence, but this must be broadly the same as a maternity certificate. It must be in writing, it must identify you, it must be issued by your doctor or midwife no more than 20 weeks before the week the baby is due, and it must either be stamped with your doctor’s name and address, or show your midwife’s name and personal identity number.
You should give your employer the medical evidence no later than 3 weeks after the date SMP was due to start. Your employer may agree to accept your medical evidence later than this if they are satisfied that you had a good reason for the delay. But if you have not given the evidence within 13 weeks of the start of the MPP, for whatever reason, SMP is not payable.
Even if your baby is born prematurely, before the maternity certificate could be issued, your employer will still need evidence of the date the baby was actually due. Please read the section about Premature births.
More than one employer
If you have more than one employer, you may be entitled to SMP from each one (so you could get more than one lot of SMP). The same is true if you have more than one contract with the same employer, if your NI contributions are paid separately for each contract.
Remember that your doctor or midwife can issue you with one maternity certificate (form MATB1) only. So if you do qualify for SMP from more than one employer, your other employer will have to tell you what other medical evidence is acceptable (see ‘Proving your baby is due’ above).