What is Statutory Maternity Pay?

Statutory Maternity Pay (or SMP for short) is paid by employers to women who are pregnant or have recently had a baby.

You can usually claim SMP if you have worked for at least 26 weeks for the same employer, and if you earn above a certain amount (£102.00 per week in 2011/12). These conditions apply 15 weeks before the date that the baby is expected (not the date it is actually born).

You can claim SMP for up to 39 weeks. It is paid for the first six weeks at 90% of your weekly earnings, and for the remaining 33 weeks at either £128.73 (in 2011/12) or 90% of your weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Employers may offer different Maternity Pay schemes, provided they pay at least the total Statutory Maternity Pay that would be due.

Statutory Maternity Pay counts as taxable income. If you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, you may be able to apply for Maternity Allowance instead. Maternity Allowance is a non-taxable benefit.