If you are a working mother in full time employment then the chances are your company will have contractual arrangements for maternity pay when your baby is due.
The government also pay a statutory maternity pay (SMP) to all working mothers be they full or part time employed (Subject to eligibility). Note that if your Employer pays you 6 weeks maternity pay then the government will not also pay you for the same period; the SMP will pay you from the 6 weeks up to the maximum week period.
If you are employed you will normally claim your statutory pay from your employer. Some employers require a part re-payment of your maternity pay if you do not return to work but you will be paid at least as much as the Statutory maternity pay as this is not re-paid. At the time of writing if your baby is due after the 1st April 2007 you will receive up to 39 weeks (SMP), if due before the 1st April the SMP is up to 26 weeks. If you are eligible for SMP you will receive it even if you leave your job before you start receiving it. If employed you may choose when you wish the SMP to start, the start date can be no earlier than 11 weeks before your due date unless your baby is born sooner.
Eligibility for SMP
You must have been employed without a break for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due
Earning an average of at least £84 a week (before tax)
If you are not eligible for SMP you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance (MA). See below.
How much will you get paid? If baby due on or before 31st March 2007
For first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings£108.85 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (if lower) for following 20 weeks
If baby due after 1st April 2007
For first six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings £112.75 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (if lower) for following 33 weeks
Note that SMP is eligible for tax and National Insurance deductions.
How to Claim
To claim SMP you must tell your employer at least 28 days before you intend to stop work to have your baby. Your employer also requires evidence of your baby's due date.
Maternity Allowance (MA)
If you are employed but not eligible for SMP, self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions or hold a Small Earnings Exception certificate then you may be eligible for MA.
Eligibility for MA
You may be eligible if
You have been working for at least 26 of the 66 weeks (test period) up to and including the week before your baby is due.
You earned an average of £30 in any 13 weeks within the test period.
How much will you get paid? If baby due on or before 31st March 2007-03-15
For a maximum of 26 weeks a weekly amount of £108.85 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller.
If baby due after 1st April 2007-03-15
For a maximum of 39 weeks a weekly amount of £108.85 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller.
MA is paid weekly into your bank, building society or Post Office account.
Note that MA is NOT eligible for tax and National Insurance deductions.
How to Claim
You can claim MA using a MA1 form. This form can be found at your local Jobcentre Plus or online (link below).