17 June 2024

Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave

When you take time off work to have a baby you might be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Statutory Maternity Leave. Below we have explained what these are and how to claim for these.



Statutory Maternity Leave is 52 weeks. It’s made up of:

  • Ordinary Maternity Leave – first 26 weeks
  • Additional Maternity Leave – last 26 weeks.

You don’t have to take 52 weeks but you must take 2 weeks’ leave after your baby is born (or 4 weeks if you work in a factory).

At least 15 weeks before your due date, tell your employer when the baby is due and when you want to start your maternity leave. The earliest you can start your leave is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

When on Statutory Maternity Leave your employment rights are protected. This includes your rights to:

  • Pay rises
  • Build Up (Accrue) holiday
  • Return to work

You qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if:

  • You’re an employee not a ‘worker’ 
  • you give your employer the correct notice


Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get:

  • 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks
  • £184.03 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks

SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (eg, monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted from this.

To qualify for SMP you must:

  • Have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • Earn on average at least £123 a week
  • give the correct notice and proof you’re pregnant

You must give at least 28 days notice and tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you want your SMP to start.

You can provide your employer with your MATB1 certificate or a letter from your doctor or midwife as proof of pregnancy.


You can still get SMP and Statutory Maternity leave if your baby:

  • is born early
  • is stillborn after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy
  • dies after being born

If you have any questions or need help with SMP, please contact us.

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