A pregnant woman, who has been employed for at least 26 weeks continuously up to and during the qualifying week, will be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay from her employer. Other criteria that has to be satisfied includes telling your employer when you would like SMP to commence, providing medical evidence of your baby’s due date and having gross weekly pay which is at least the same as the lower earnings limit for National Insurance Contributions, currently £102 per week. However, if you are self employed you won’t be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, but may be able to claim Maternity Allowance if you meet the strict criteria.
You must have been registered as self employed for at least 26 weeks during the ‘test period’. This is the 66 weeks that run up to and include the week before the week of your baby’s due date. Partial weeks are counted as full weeks. Taking any 13 weeks during the test period, you should also average income of £30 a week. Earnings from self employment will be used to calculate entitlement to Maternity Allowance. Jobcentre Plus will look at whether you may be entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance if you aren’t able to claim Maternity Allowance, which will be dealt with automatically.
Maternity Allowance is payable for up to 39 weeks, at a standard rate of £128.73 a week or 90 percent of your gross average earnings each week, whichever is the lower amount. The earliest date that Maternity Allowance will be paid is the 11th week before your baby’s due date. You must claim the allowance before the day after the birth of your baby. Maternity Allowance is paid direct into a bank or building society account, and is paid either every fortnight or every month.
If you receive Disability Living Allowance or tax credits, they won’t be affected by Maternity Allowance. However, certain other benefits may be affected, including housing benefit, income support, carer’s allowance, bereavement benefit, council tax benefit and Employment and Support Allowance. Any Jobseeker’s Allowance that you receive will cease when Maternity Allowance commences.
It is possible to claim Maternity Allowance as soon as your pregnancy reaches 26 weeks, providing medical evidence which is usually the maternity certificate provided by your midwife or doctor. The Small Earnings Exception certificate, if you hold one, should be sent in with your claim form. As a self employed person, you may work for up to 10 days without losing entitlement to Maternity Allowance.
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