Statutory Maternity Pay for the Self-Employed

  • Leave and Absence
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Can you claim statutory maternity pay if you're self-employed? This guide explores the financial support self-employed mothers are entitled to.

So you understand statutory maternity pay is for your employees, but what if you use self-employed staff members? Do you pay them the same or are there different rules? In this guide, we explain how you should approach this state of affairs.

Who can claim statutory maternity pay (SMP)?

First off, what is SMP? Well, it’s paid time off over a period of 39 weeks to mothers in the 15th week before the expected date of childbirth. But if they’re pregnant and work for themselves, they can’t claim it. However, there’s still an option for self-employed maternity pay.

You can let them know they can claim Maternity Allowance (MA), which is financial support from the British government.

How do I know if you can claim MA?

To make a claim, the self-employed individual has to register with the HMRC. And they must pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

Additionally, as part of their self-employed work history, they should have been with you for a minimum of 26 weeks in the 66 weeks, up to and including, the week before childbirth.

Do note, these weeks don’t need to be consecutive. That’s the Test Period. In addition, they must be earning on average £30 a week. Finally, the employee should be aware they can’t claim if they’re receiving statutory maternity pay from an any employer—whether this is part-time or full-time.

How much financial support can you expect?

Maternity pay for self-employed mothers varies, but it does depend on the Class 2 National Insurance contributions that you make.

So, it depends on your earnings. And when you hand in your self-assessment (SA) form, what you earn each week/month is automatically worked out. All of which means you can expect pay along the following rates:

  • Class 2 National Insurance Contributions: If you pay this for at least 13 weeks of your test period, you can usually make a claim for £148.68 each week. This is for up to 39 weeks. But if you made less than that, you’ll receive 90% of the average amount (prior to any taxation).
  • Without Class 2 contributions: If you haven’t made any NI contributions, then you may still be able to claim a smaller amount of £27 a week—this is for a total of up to 29 weeks.

You should also know that, as a perk, your staff member won’t have to pay any tax for Maternity Allowance.

How can employees claim MA?

It’s pretty straightforward. Maternity pay for self-employed mums is available online at the government’s official MA website. Staff members can fill out the online claim form and send it off to the address provided. If they don’t have a printer, they can use one at their nearest JobCentre—or your business can offer to do this for them.

Important details to keep in mind

Remember that the earliest time they can submit their MA application is the 26th week of pregnancy. That’s roughly 11 weeks before their due date. And here are a few other important extra details to remember:

  • They must make the claim within three months of your MA Period. If they don’t, then they might start to lose money.
  • If their baby is born early then they can make their claim immediately. Their Test Period doesn’t change despite this.
  • If they’re self-employed abroad, then they can’t claim MA but may be able to apply for the equivalent in certain countries.
  • They can also work while they’re claiming MA, but only for 10 days. These are KIT (keeping in touch) days.
  • If it becomes apparent they can’t claim the money, they’ll receive a letter explaining why this is the case.

And what about dads?

But is there maternity pay for self-employed dads? As a reminder, it’s called paternity leave. But men still have a legal right to the time off and claims for pay. But, as with women, only male employees can claim statutory paternity pay.

However, there isn’t an equivalent for self-employed dads. As such, this means men will have to plan ahead to ensure they can afford any time off. This may depend on:

  • Income.
  • Savings.
  • Their partner’s health after birth.

For the latter, as an example, if their partner has difficulties during childbirth (such as the need for a Caesarean section) then they may need to take enforced paternity leave. They can start saving well in advance to be sure they can offer the right type of support as it’s required. For example:

  • If they find their partner is pregnant by the second or third month, then they have seven or six months’ time to save.
  • Put aside around 5% of income each month, which can add up to a significant amount to cover various paternity costs.

They can also look into whether you can claim Child Tax and Working Tax credits. They may also be able to claim Child Benefits.

Looking for more guidance?

If you have self-employed staff but need professional help, we can guide you through how to approach your maternity or paternity leave. Get in touch today: 0800 028 2420.


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