SMP - an introduction

To help you to take time off work both before and after your baby is born, you may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This is a weekly payment from your employer.


To qualify for SMP you must have been:

  • employed by the same employer continuously for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the week your baby is due (the qualifying week)
  • earning on average an amount which at least equals the lower earnings limit which applies on the Saturday at the end of your qualifying week

The lower earnings limit is the amount you have to earn before you are treated as paying National Insurance contributions. This is £116 a week if the end of your qualifying week is in the 2018-2019 tax year.

If you have a visa that allows you to live and work in the United Kingdom you may be able to get SMP. If your visa includes the condition that you have “no recourse to public funds” you may still get SMP provided you satisfy the qualifying conditions. The qualifying conditions for SMP depend on your recent employment and earnings history. Due to this SMP does not constitute public funds.

By completing a series of questions you will be given a personalised statement of your rights at work during pregnancy and birth. You may find this helpful before applying for SMP. To get a statement use the following link.

How to claim SMP

To make a claim for SMP, you must:

  • tell your employer when you want your SMP to start
  • provide medical evidence of the date your baby is due

How much SMP you will get

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 £145.18 or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings

When SMP is paid

Your employer will usually pay you in the same way and at the same time as your normal wages. It can be paid for up to 39 weeks.

What else you need to know about SMP

Each time you get pregnant you must use the date your baby is due to work out your SMP for that pregnancy.

If you have more than one job, you may be able to get SMP from each employer.

If you can't get SMP

If you cannot get SMP your employer must fill in form SMP1 and give this to you. On the form, your employer must say why SMP has not been paid. If you have more than one employer, you must get form SMP1 from each employer.

Form SMP1 is used to support a claim for Maternity Allowance. It is important your employer gives this form to you as soon as possible. Without the information on the form a decision on entitlement to Maternity Allowance cannot be made which may delay payment.

If you disagree with the decision

Ask your employer for a reason if you think:

  • their decision not to pay you SMP is wrong
  • you’re not getting the right amount of SMP

If you still disagree, you can phone the HMRC employee's enquiry line on 0300 200 3500 for advice.


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