You can choose how long you take off work for maternity leave, up to a maximum of 52 weeks. However, the law says that you must take at least two weeks immediately after the baby is born. If you work in a factory, you must take at least four weeks.
The period of payment, highly depends on which mode of payment you are on. You may qualify for SMP, Maternal Allowance, statutory sick pay, statutory adoption pay, or ordinary statutory paternity pay.
If you qualify for SMP, it is paid:
- for the first six weeks at 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings with no upper limit
- for the remaining 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate of £128.73, or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings
If you’re pregnant or have a new baby but don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from any employer, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA) through Job centre Plus. Maternity Allowance pays a standard weekly rate of £128.73 or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller.
MA is paid for a maximum period of 39 weeks.
The amount of Maternity Allowance you get depends on your gross average weekly earnings or the amount you are treated as earning from your self-employment. Maternity Allowance can be paid every two weeks or every four weeks directly into your bank or building society.
The earliest you can get Maternity Allowance is from the 11th week before the week your baby’s due. The latest you can get it is from the day following your child’s birth. If an employee is unable to work because she is ill she may be able to get the Statutory Sick Pay. It is paid by your employer and can be paid for up to 28 weeks. The standard weekly rate for SSP is £81.60 a week.
Statutory Adoption Pay is a weekly payment you get from your employer to help take time off work when you adopt a child.
If your average weekly earnings are £102 or more (before tax), Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay is paid for one or two consecutive weeks at £128.73 or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is less.