Employees that are pregnant are eligible to take up to 26 weeks of maternity leave (known as ordinary maternity leave) plus an additional 26 weeks (known as additional maternity leave). This means that an employee can take up to a full year of maternity leave once they give their employers the correct notice. All women employees are entitled to both classes of maternity leave from day one of their employment.
SMP is a weekly payment from your employer made over a 39-week period. The SMP is payable at:
- 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings (AWE) for the first 6 weeks with no upper limit;
- £140.98 (for 2017-18) or 90% of their AWE (whichever is lower) for the remaining 33 weeks.
Employees need to be on the payroll in the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. The SMP is available to employees if they have provided:
- The correct notice period to their employer.
- Proof they are pregnant.
- Confirmation that they have been working continuously for the same employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the qualifying week.
- Confirmation that they earned at least £113 a week (gross) in the ‘relevant period’. The relevant period is usually the 8-week period preceding the 15th week before the baby is due, known as the qualifying week.
Your employer may also offer further additional benefits which include higher maternity payments, however this is at their discretion and not legally required.