Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) Rates & Eligibility

When an employee is pregnant, it’s imperative that they receive the correct maternity pay and leave entitlement that they deserve. As a business, working out how much pay a pregnant employee is entitled to and if they meet the eligibility criteria can be a prolonged process. FMP Global are able to take this process off your hands, providing a range of outsourced, part managed bureau and fully managed payroll solutions to ensure your employees’ Statutory Maternity Pay is processed and delivered accurately and on time.

What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

If eligible, employees are entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Leave, Statutory Maternity Pay, paid time off for antenatal care (including medical appointments and classes) and additional Government help when pregnant.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid the same way an employee is paid their weekly/monthly wages for up to 39 weeks – tax and national insurance will also be deducted. For the first 6 weeks of SMP, those who are eligible receive 90% of their average weekly earnings and thereafter, they receive 90% of their weekly average earnings (or a rate of £145.18) for the remaining 33 weeks.

Eligibility for Statutory Maternity Pay

To be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, an employee must:

  • Provide sufficient notice (they will need to notify their employer at least 15 weeks before they are due and 28 days notice for when they would like SMP to start)
  • Have worked consistently for the employer for a period of 26 weeks up until the ‘qualifying week’, which is the 15th week prior to the expected childbirth
  • Earn a minimum of £116 a week
  • Provide supporting proof that they’re pregnant – this can be a doctor’s/midwife’s letter or a MATB1 certificate

Normally, Statutory Maternity Pay starts as soon as you take maternity leave. Maternity leave can start:

  • As early as 11 weeks before an employee’s baby is due
  • The day following an early childbirth
  • If an employee is off work from a pregnancy-related illness within the 4 weeks prior to week before the baby’s due date

To be eligible for Maternity Leave, the employee must be classified as such – not a ‘worker’.

How to Calculate your Employees’ SMP Entitlement

When working out SMP entitlement, you first need to work out your employee’s average weekly earnings in the ‘relevant period’ which must be £116 or more. All of the employee’s earnings paid in that relevant period should be divided by the number of days, weeks or months.

Working out the Relevant Period

The end of the relevant period is the last normal payday on, or before the Saturday of the qualifying week. The day after the last normal payday falling at least 8 weeks before the end of the relevant period is the start of the relevant period.

Weekly paid example (baby due 25th March 2018):

Qualifying weekPaydayLast payday at least 8 weeks before the end of the relevant periodLast payday on or before the Saturday of the QW
10 December 2017 to 16 December 2017Friday21 October 201715 December 2017

With this relevant period, you would add up the earnings paid during this time and divide by the number of weeks (in this example, eight).

Monthly paid example (baby due 11th February 2018)

Qualifying weekPaydayLast payday at least 8 weeks before the end of the relevant periodLast payday on or before the Saturday of the QW
29 October 2017 to 4 November 2017Last working day of the month31 August 201831 October 2017

You would add up the earnings paid during this period, divide by the number of months in the relevant period, multiply by 12 and divide by 52.

Once you have worked out your employee’s average weekly earnings, SMP is payable weekly as 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings  for the first 6 weeks, or £145.18 or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower) for the remaining weeks.

How we can help

Visit our outsourced payroll solutions page for more information on how FMP Global can help remove time-consuming payroll admin and procedures from your working day. Our expertise and attentiveness ensures your employees’ Statutory Maternity Pay is recorded and paid correctly and reliably.

For the complete, in-depth guidelines on Statutory Maternity Pay entitlement, eligibility and exceptions, please visit the Gov website.

Quick Reference FAQs

Q. How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

A. In the first 6 weeks of Statutory Maternity Pay, eligible employees can receive 90% of their average weekly earnings and then 90% of their weekly average earnings (or £145.18) after that. Use the SMP calculator to work out an employee’s maternity leave and pay.

Q. How long is Maternity Leave?

A. Maternity leave adds up to 52 weeks in total.This does not have to be taken completely, however an employee must take 2 weeks’ leave (4 weeks if working in a factory) after their child is born.

Q. What are an employee’s maternity rights?

A. Whilst on Maternity Leave and receiving Statutory Maternity Pay, an employee’s employment rights are protected. Employees have rights to pay rises, accrue of holiday and return to work.

Q. In what circumstances would an employee not qualify for SMP?

A. An employee would not qualify for SMP if they did not provide the correct notice (a minimum of 15 weeks before the due date and 28 days when they would like it to start), if they have not worked a minimum of 26 weeks consistently for the employer (until the qualifying week), if they have not provided supporting proof they are pregnant, or if they earn less than £116 a week.