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Maternity Allowance

How you can claim Maternity Allowance if you are a self-employed or employed musician.

Last updated: 05 December 2023

Musicians can claim maternity allowance if:

  • You have been working for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth
  • You can find 13 weeks (not necessarily in a row) in which you earned over £30 per week on average

When claiming Maternity Allowance you can add together earnings from more than one job and you should make sure that you choose the weeks in which you earned the most.

Both employed and self-employed work counts for Maternity Allowance.

You can also claim MA if you are the spouse or civil partner of a self-employed person and you help in their business.

Maternity Allowance for self-employed musicians

A self-employed person is treated as having the following earnings regardless of the amount you actually earn:

  • If you pay a class 2 NI contribution, you will be treated as earning £172.48 a week (April 2023 - April 2024)
  • If you hold a small earnings exception certificate from NI, you will be treated as earning £27 a week (the MA threshold).

If you wish to claim MA and you have not yet done your Self-Assessment tax return and paid Class 2 NICs, you should contact Jobcentre Plus and make your claim for MA as soon as possible. You will be given the opportunity to pay Class 2 NICs before they are due in order to qualify for MA at the standard rate.

You should contact Jobcentre Plus if you have not paid enough Class 2 NICs to qualify for MA when you make your claim. HMRC will let you know how to make an early payment of Class 2 NICs.

Adoptive parents can’t claim MA and there is also no equivalent for fathers who don't qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, this needs to change. Support the campaign for parental pay equality.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

You may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance and have done some work in the last three years but not recently.

The rate of ESA varies according to your circumstances. It is paid from six weeks before your baby is due until two weeks after your baby is born.

You can claim ESA if you have paid or been credited with enough National Insurance contributions during the last three tax years that do not overlap the current calendar year.

It is also possible to get ESA if you are incapable of working because of illness or disability.

Discrimination at work based on pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave

It's against the law for your employer to treat you unfairly, dismiss you or select you for redundancy for any reason connected with pregnancy, childbirth or maternity leave.

All employees, casual workers, agency workers, freelancers and contractors are protected by discrimination law from day one of their employment.

If you are a musician and a member of the MU, you can talk about discrimination at work in more detail with Musicians' Union. You can also contact us regarding advice on Shared Parental Leave or Parental Leave.

Contact the MU

The parental guidance pack is designed in conjunction with Maternity Action to provide musicians with information about your rights at work as set out under the Equality Act 2010. 

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