Home Advice for Parents & CarersMaternity Leave Pay and Allowances during Maternity Leave

Pay and Allowances during Maternity Leave

Calculating Maternity Pay

For guidance on calculating Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance click here.

Both Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance are payable for 39 weeks.  However, maternity leave may last for 52 weeks; the last 13 weeks are unpaid.

Am I entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay?

To work out entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), click here.

What about Occupational Maternity Pay?

As well as SMP, your employer may pay you contractual/occupational maternity pay, which might have different conditions and may be closer to the amount of your normal wage. You should ask your employer about this. Your employer does not have to pay more than SMP unless you have a contractual right to extra maternity pay.

Am I entitled to Maternity Allowance?

Check the rules to find out if you can claim Maternity Allowance.

I am an agency worker, do I get maternity pay?

If you are an agency worker, you qualify for statutory payments in the normal way. You can check the rules for entitlement to SMP. You should also check that you are definitely an agency worker, as some people may actually be employees.

There are also some specific rules which may help you to qualify. If you were absent from work because your agency is unable to find you work in a particular week, but you returned to work for them later, that week still counts towards your 26 weeks of continuous employment. So do weeks when you were not available for work because of sickness or injury.

If your employer offers you work for no more than 26 weeks at a time, at least twice a year, and usually offers the work to people who have worked for them recently (for example, if you are a supply teacher), then even if you do not return to work after a period of sickness or time off due to pregnancy, that period may still count towards your 26 weeks of employment.

What if I am a Self Employed Worker?

Self employed women do not have the right to SMP unless you are also an employee. Instead you will have to claim Maternity Allowance (MA). Check the rules to see whether you qualify.

If you own a limited company and pay yourself a salary through PAYE from the company, you could qualify for SMP as an employee, provided you meet the usual test. Call the HMRC employer’s helpline on 0300 200 3200. You will find more information on this here.

Can I claim Employment and Support Allowance?

If you are pregnant and within six weeks of the expected week of childbirth, you can be automatically treated as having limited capability for work. You will not have to have an assessment. This allows you to get Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. You must still meet the contribution conditions and/or the conditions for getting income-related ESA. You can carry on getting ESA for 14 days after you have the baby.

If you meet the conditions to get income-related ESA for pregnancy (for example you are incapacitated due to pregnancy related sickness), you may have the choice of claiming Income Support (IS) instead. This could apply earlier in your pregnancy, and possibly after the birth.

Because you may be able to claim IS for a longer period, it may make sense to claim this instead of ESA. But if you are likely to have limited capability for work for more than 13 weeks (including the 8 weeks around the birth), you should get advice, as ESA could be worth more money.

You will find more information about ESA and how to claim it on gov.uk .

In some areas of the country, if you make a new claim for income-related ESA or Income Support, you will be told to claim Universal Credit instead.

Other payments during maternity leave

For details of what happens to car allowances, bonuses and commission during maternity leave see Rights during Maternity Leave.

This advice applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

Advice contact form

Have you heard about your right to request flexible working? Watch our film to find out more.

DonateReceive updates button