Statutory maternity pay: How much is SMP and how to calculate it – The Sun

WOMEN and their partners can get up to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Under government rules, most new mums can receive a large bulk of their pay while they're off work caring for their newborns.

But rules for dads are different and could affect how you decide to balance caring for your baby while your husband is working. Here's everything you need to know about statutory maternity and paternity pay.

What are my rights for maternity leave in the UK?

All expectant mums and dads need to know their rights when it comes to maternity/paternity pay and leave – so you and your baby don't get short changed. As an expectant mum in the UK, you may be entitled to statutory maternity leave. The first 26 weeks is known as Ordinary Maternity Leave, the last 26 weeks as Additional Maternity Leave. Women can opt to take up to a year off for maternity leave.

But they MUST take a bare minimum of two weeks after giving birth (or four weeks if they work in a factory). If you are a self-employed/freelance worker, as opposed to a contracted employee, this may affect your right to maternity leave. If you are a contracted employee, you must inform your boss of your due date and when you want to start maternity leave at least 15 weeks before you are due to give birth. If this isn't possible, so in cases where you don't realise you're pregnant, you have to tell them as soon as possible. The earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before your due date. Your leave will start automatically the day after you give birth, and if you're off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the four weeks before your due date. Legally, you must give your employer eight weeks notice if you want to change the date you return to work.

Your rights during maternity leave

  • Can you be fired for being on maternity leave?
  • No – this is classed as discrimination.
  • Can you be made redundant while on maternity leave?
  • Yes – as long as your employer genuinely needs to make redundancies. But workers do have the right to be offered any suitable alternative job (where one is available) if they’re selected for redundancy (even if other colleagues are more suitable for the role) while on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
  • Your employment rights to pay rises and to accrue holiday are protected during maternity leave.

What are my rights for maternity pay in the UK?

New mums only receive statutory maternity pay (SMP) for 39 weeks of their 52-week maternity leave. For the first six weeks, you will be paid 90 per cent of your average weekly salary (before tax). After this point, you will only be paid £148.68 per week, or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is a lower amount. If you take an entire year of leave, the last 13 weeks will be unpaid. You must give your employer proof that you're pregnant to qualify for SMP, usually with a letter from your doctor or midwife. To get SMP your average weekly earnings before taking off tax and National Insurance must be at least equal to the Lower Earnings Limit. To get SMP you must be employed by me for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due. According to a 2019 report by Unicef, which analysed the world’s richest countries and calculated how family friendly they are. Estonia was ranked the best with 84 weeks full rate equivalent (166 weeks total) and the US was placed the worst with 0 weeks FRE (0 weeks total). The UK was placed seventh out of 10 with 12 weeks FRE (39 weeks total). It beat Mexico, Australia and the US.

What are my rights for paternity leave/pay in the UK?

Dads can now take paternity leave, under a scheme called shared parental leave (SPL), if they are adopting or having a baby. It does not matter whether or not the parents are still together, as long as the dad is involved in providing childcare. Men can choose to take their paternity leave in blocks, rather than all in one go, but it must be taken between the baby's birth and first birthday (or within one year of adoption). They cannot take paternity leave before the mother has given birth. This also applies to partners of mums. Under the scheme, parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay between themselves. Mums are still expected to take maternity leave up until the birth, at which point she can opt to cancel the maternity leave and start SPL. The remainder of the leave can then be split among the parents as they choose. Unlike maternity leave, the man must have been working at the same company for at least 11 weeks before the baby was conceived, and stay with their employer while they take SPL. The dad must be an employee to qualify, but the mum can be a self-employed or freelance worker. Alternatively, they could get one or two weeks’ paid paternity leave, which must be taken in one go.

What about if you're adopting and want to take leave?

The rules are different if you are parents who are adopting a child.

To be eligible for shared parental leave and statutory shared parental pay, both adoptive parents must share responsibility for the child and meet the work and earnings criteria.

If you both want to share SPL and ShPP you must:

  • Be employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the week you were matched with the child
  • Stay with the same employer while you take SPL
  • Each earn on average at least £120 a week

If only one parent wants to take SPL and ShPP, the restrictions above remain the same for them. Meanwhile, their partner must have been working for at least 26 weeks during the 66 weeks a child was placed in their care and have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks.

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