We have previously covered employee entitlement regarding holidays and illness, however there is another form of employee entitlement we have yet to cover; maternity pay.

Statutory Maternity Leave (SML)

When you have a baby you are entitled to take some time off work known as SML. The amount of SML you can have is fifty-two weeks, split into ordinary and additional for the first and second twenty-six weeks respectively. You do not have to take all of the fifty-two weeks, however you are required to take at least two weeks of leave after the baby is born (four if you are working in a factory)

Usually the earliest you can begin taking your SML is eleven weeks before the baby is due to be born, however there are circumstances where this will be different. Leave can also start on the day after the baby is born, if the baby is born early or if a pregnancy related illness makes you unable to work in the four weeks before the baby is due.

While on SML your employee rights such as accruing holiday pay and pay rises are protected.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is paid for thirty-nine weeks and you receive 90% of your weekly earnings for the first six weeks. For the remaining thirty-three weeks you will receive the lower of £139.58 and 90% of your weekly earnings.

SMP will normally start at the same time as your SML.


To be eligible for SML you will need to be an employee and give your employer the correct notice. It does not matter how long you work for an employer or the hours you work. Having a child through surrogacy does not entitle you to SML.

To qualify for SMP you must earn at least £112 per week while giving your employer the correct notice and proof you are pregnant. You will also need to have worked for the employer continuously for at least twenty-six weeks up to the fifteenth week before the expected week of childbirth.

If you go into police custody, the SMP will stop and not restart again upon leaving custody.

If your baby is born early, stillborn after the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy or dies after being born, you will still be entitled to SMP and SML.

Claiming SMP and SML

To claim SML, you must contact your employer at least fifteen weeks before the due date of the baby. You need to tell them when the baby is due and when you want to start the SML and you may have to provide this in writing.

Your employer must then write to you within twenty-eight days to confirm your start and end dates. If you wish to change the end date, you will need to give your employer at least eight weeks notice.

To claim SMP you must tell your employer when you wish to stop work and when you want to receive the SMP. You must give them twenty-eight days notice, in writing if they require and proof of your pregnancy.

The employer must confirm how much SMP you will receive and when it begins and ceases within twenty-eight days. If your employer decides you are not eligible for SMP, they must provide you with form SMP1 within seven days of making their decision.

The proof of pregnancy you need to claim SMP will be in the form of a letter from your doctor or midwife or your MATB1 certificate which you should receive from the doctor or midwife no more than twenty weeks before the due date.

Additional information

If you are unable to get SMP and SML you can claim Maternity Allowance, which will be covered in another blog.

There are also a number of benefits you can claim regarding having children as shown on this link.

Finally, you can calculate the amount of SMP and SML you can receive by clicking this link.

If you would like more information regarding the above or regarding payroll in general, please do not hesitate to contact us.