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Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay

What you need to know

On this page you can find out more about:

  • Your eligibility for Statutory Maternity Pay
  • How much Statutory Maternity Pay you may be entitled to
  • Your eligibility for Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Your eligibility for Statutory Adoption Pay

Did you know MU members can apply for a £250 adoption, maternity or paternity grant? Apply online now.

If you are refused maternity, paternity or adoption pay, please contact your MU Regional Office for advice.

Statutory Maternity Pay

The earliest you can start your Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).

To be eligible for SMP you need to meet certain qualifying conditions. The fifteenth week before the EWC is the “qualifying week”. The EWC starts on the Sunday at the beginning of the week in which your baby is due.

How to find the fifteenth week before the EWC

To work out the qualifying week you find the Sunday at the start of the EWC and count back 15 weeks. That is the first day of the qualifying week, which starts on a Sunday.

Eligibility

To be eligible for SMP, you must:

  • Have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service by the end of the qualifying week
  • Be employed in all or part of the qualifying week
  • Have average weekly earnings of at least £118 (for the current tax year), before tax, in the eight weeks or two months before the end of the qualifying week. Your earnings can include overtime, commission, bonuses or other sums on which national insurance contributions are paid.

Agency workers, casual and zero hours workers and some freelance workers may qualify for SMP if they meet the qualifying conditions.

If you do not qualify for SMP, you may qualify for Maternity Allowance.

Length of payment of SMP

SMP is payable for 39 weeks even if you decide to resign, or you are dismissed or made redundant. 

Once you have qualified for SMP you are entitled to receive it for the full 39 week period. You do not have to repay SMP if you decide not to return to work.

If you start work for a new employer during the 39 week SMP period, your SMP will stop, unless you were working for that employer in the 15th week before your baby was due.

How much is SMP?

SMP is paid at 90% of your average earnings for the first six weeks. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at £148.68 per week (for the current tax year) or 90% of average earnings if that is less. 

Some employers offer enhanced contractual maternity pay, so check your contract.

Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is paid by your employer for up to two weeks. SPP is paid at £148.68 per week (for this current tax year) or 90% of your average earnings if that is lower. 

You can get SPP if:

  • You are the baby’s father or the husband/wife/partner of the mother or the main adopter and you are responsible for the baby’s upbringing.
  • You have been employed by your employer for 26 weeks by the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).
  • You are still employed by the same employer up to the day your child is born.
  • You have average weekly earnings of at least £118 (this current tax year), before tax, in the eight weeks or two months before the end of the qualifying week.

Some employers offer enhanced contractual paternity pay, so check your contract.

Statutory Adoption Pay

The qualifying conditions for statutory adoption pay and paternity pay are the same as those listed above for maternity and paternity pay.

MU members can apply for a £250 adoption, maternity or paternity grant

This parental guidance has been developed in conjunction with Maternity Action.