Statutory Maternity Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay

Maternity leave often causes some operational difficulties for a business particularly if the employee in question is a manager or a great sales person.

This article will explain what rights employees on maternity leave have and how business owners can mitigate some of the related financial difficulties.


What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is a payment that employers make when their employees are on maternity leave.

If your employee has fallen pregnant, then you must pay them Statutory Maternity Pay – this is not optional.


Is my employee eligible for SMP?

Your member of staff will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay if they are a staff member with an employment contract and they give you sufficient notice. In this case, sufficient notice is at least 15 weeks before the baby is due.

Your employee must also earn an average at least £116 a week. Your employee must have also worked for you for at least 26 continuous weeks in order to qualify.


How long does an employee get off?

Employees can take off up to 52 weeks in maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is referred to as “ordinary maternity leave” and the remaining 26 weeks are called “additional maternity leave”.

Your employee can start to take maternity leave 11 weeks before the baby is expected to be born if they wish. However, they are required to take off at least 2 weeks from work immediately after birth.


How much should I pay them?

Employees are eligible for up to 39 weeks of SMP. This is the payment schedule:

  • In the first 6 weeks, the employee earns 90% of their average weekly earnings,
  • For the remaining 33 weeks, the employee will earn either £145.18 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

SMP is paid at the same frequency as the staff member’s normal wages. For example, they will receive their SMP each month if they are paid each month.


Reclaiming SMP from HMRC

If you are, you can reclaim the costs from HMRC. You can do this in two ways:

  • If your PAYE and National Insurance bill is larger than the SMP you’re paying, you can offset the amount of SMP. This means that your PAYE and NI will be reduced for the duration that you are paying SMP.
  • If your PAYE and NI bill are of a sufficient amount to offset all of the SMP, you can complete this form. This must be done up to four weeks before the maternity leave starts.

Make sure that you have the following information ready for the form:

  • Your accounts office number,
  • Your PAYE number,
  • Business details,
  • Bank details for your business (for the advanced payment), and,
  • The details of the employee taking maternity leave (National Insurance number and expected delivery date).

Typically, you should receive your payment within 6 working days.


We can help

If you aren’t sure about what to do when your employee is taking maternity leave, get in touch with our team. We can guide you through the whole process. Call us today on 01202 577 500 or email us at

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