Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is paid for no more than 39 weeks. It will usually cover the first 39 weeks of maternity leave. It is payable when the employee is not at work because of her pregnancy or because she has given birth.
An employee qualifies for SMP provided she has:
She must also be:
Although this specifically covers employees, an agency worker can also be eligible for SMP even if she is not eligible for maternity leave.
If the employed earner has more than one employer, she may be able to claim SMP from each one.
Self-employed women who do not qualify may be able to claim maternity allowance.
Women who work in an unpaid capacity in the business of a self-employed spouse or civil partner can receive a weekly maternity allowance. This will be payable for a maximum of 14 weeks.
You must give your employee form SMP1 (which is available from HM Revenue and Customs) stating the reason why you cannot pay her SMP. Form SMP1 is required to support your employee's claim to maternity allowance. You must also give the employee her original medical certificate or MAT B1 form back. You can keep a copy for your records.
If there is a dispute between you and the employee over whether she should be paid SMP, then you can refer it to HM Revenue and Customs to make a formal decision.
If a qualifying employee's employment ends after the start of the 'qualifying week' (the 15th week before her EWC) but before you start paying her SMP, you must still pay it. This also applies if her employment ends during the SMP period.
These rules apply regardless of whether her employment ends voluntarily, e.g. she resigns, or because you dismiss her.
You cannot pay SMP for any week during which an employee works for you if she has already worked ten keeping-in-touch days within the SMP period.
If an employee returns to work, but then for any reason she has to stop work and she is still in her SMP period, you must start paying her SMP again.
You can stop paying SMP if an employee:
SMP is payable at a rate of 90 per cent of the employee's AWE for the first six weeks. There is no upper limit. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at either:
You can, if you wish, offer enhanced maternity pay arrangements to attract and retain employees. For example, you could:
You could change the qualification criteria for these enhancements, e.g. the employee needs a year's continuous service. You can offer these arrangements as a contractual right. If you offer them on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, you must act reasonably and comply with legislation aimed at tackling discrimination. You should be aware the arrangements may become contractual through 'custom and practice'.
You can recover 92 per cent of your SMP payments from HM Revenue and Customs.
However, if your total annual National Insurance payments are £45,000 or less you can recover 103 per cent.
You can calculate the maternity pay and the amount you can recover on thewebsite.
You can also recover the SMP portion of any enhanced maternity pay from HM Revenue and Customs.