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There’s lots to think about as an employer, but one big thing you don’t want to fly under your radar is what to do when your employee shares the news they’re pregnant.

While a congratulations are in order for starters, you’ll also need to put their mind at ease and answer any burning questions they have. This usually revolves around their leaving date, and Statutory Maternity Pay.

Your business might already have procedures in place for different types of parental leave and pay, but don’t worry if it doesn’t! We’ll guide you through Statutory Maternity Pay to help you prepare.

What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is an ‘employee benefit’ for members of the team who are pregnant and go on maternity leave when their baby is due to be born. Eligible employees will receive regular payments of SMP into their bank account, which they can receive for up to 39 weeks.

Are all my employees eligible for Maternity Pay?

In some cases, not all of your employees will be eligible. They must meet the following criteria:

  • Earn at least £123 per week
  • Give the correct notice and proof that they’re pregnant
  • Have worked for your business for a minimum of 26 weeks by their ‘qualifying week’ (this is the 15th week before the expected week they’re due)
Employees who have a child through surrogacy don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave, and are covered by Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay instead.

How much Statutory Maternity Pay is my employee entitled to?

SMP can be paid to your employees for a maximum of 39 weeks.

  • Employees will receive 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax for the first 6 weeks.
  • For the remaining 33 weeks employees will either receive £172.48 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (it’ll be whichever is lower)

Your employees are entitled to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave.
 

Ordinary Maternity Leave The first 26 weeks
Additional Maternity Leave The last 26 weeks

 
The earliest leaving date for your employee to go on maternity leave is 11 weeks before the expected week they’re due, unless they go into labour earlier.

You can calculate your employees SMP using the SMP Calculator.

When should my employee return to work?

Your employee has the right to return to their normal position if they take:

  • 26 weeks of Maternity or Adoption Leave
  • 26 weeks of shared Paternal Leave (this is between both parents)
  • Paternity Leave
  • Up to 4 weeks unpaid Parental Leave
  • Parental Bereavement Leave
If your employee takes more leave than this, they’ll have the right to return either to their previous role, or something similar upon their return if it isn’t possible to give them their old job.

How do I pay my employee Statutory Maternity Pay?

Once you’ve calculated how much SMP your employee is entitled to, you’ll pay them as normal through your payroll (or let your provider know, if you outsource it). And just like you would a salary, you’ll deduct any National Insurance and taxes too.

How do I reclaim Statutory Maternity Pay that I pay to employees?

The good news is you can claim back most of the SMP that you pay to your employees. You can use your payroll software to calculate how much you’re expected to get back, and then include it in an Employment Payment Summary when you report your payroll information to HMRC.

Can I give my employees more than the standard SMP?

You can offer your employees a maternity scheme which offers them more than the statutory amount of maternity pay. This is completely up to you, but something to consider as a way to attract and retain staff.

If you do have a scheme, ensure that it’s easy to understand and available to all employees.

For more advice, check out our Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance guide.

Do my employees accrue holiday pay on Maternity Leave?

Yes, employees on maternity leave accrue holiday pay like any other employee. It can’t be taken while they’re on maternity leave though, so it’s best to sit down with your employee and discuss taking some leave either before or after their maternity leave – so they’ve taken everything they’ve accrued.

Can my employee work while on Maternity Leave?

Your employees will be entitled to ‘keep in touch days’ (sometimes known as KIT days) if it’s something you both agree on. They can work up to 10 paid days, or 20 for Shared Parental Leave.

These can be good to keep in touch with your employee, while keeping them up to date on the business.

What if my employees are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay?

If your employee doesn’t qualify for SMP, they may be entitled to Maternity Allowance instead. You’ll need to fill out an SMP1 form within 7 days of coming to this conclusion. They need to receive this within 28 days of their request for SMP or the birth (whichever one is earlier).

 
Learn more about our online accounting services for businesses. Call 020 3355 4047 to chat to the team and get an instant online quote.

About The Author

Rachael Anderson

A creative content writer specialising across business, finance and software topics. I have a love for all things writing, and creating engaging, easy to understand content that helps everyday people! Learn more about Rachael.

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