Many women will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) when they take maternity leave, but what are the options if you don’t?
Here’s a guide to Maternity Allowance.
At a glance
- Maternity Allowance is a payment made by the government.
- It can be claimed as soon as you're 26 weeks pregnant.
- Payments can start from 11 weeks before your baby's due date.
What is Maternity Allowance?
Maternity Allowance is a payment made by the government to women who do not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay. It can be claimed as soon as you’re 26 weeks pregnant and the payment can start from 11 weeks before your baby’s due date.
How much you’ll get depends on your eligibility, but you could receive either:
- £138.18 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
- £27 a week for up to 14 weeks
The payments are made either fortnightly or monthly and are paid into a account e.g. a bank account
Am I eligible for Maternity Allowance?
Whether you qualify for Maternity Allowance and which amount you qualify for depends on your personal circumstances.
You could get Maternity Allowance for 39 weeks if:
- you’re employed, but you can’t get Statutory Maternity Pay
- you’re self-employed and paying Class 2 National Insurance contributions
- you’re self-employed and have a Certificate of Small Earnings Exception
- you’ve recently stopped working
However you must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due to qualify, and earning at least £30 a week over any 13 week period in that time.
If you don’t qualify for the 39 week allowance, you could still receive the 14 week allowance if for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due you:
- have been married or in a civil partnership
- are not employed or self-employed
- take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
- do unpaid work for the business
- have a spouse or civil partner is working as a self-employed person with HMRC and should pay Class 2 National Insurance
- have a spouse or civil partner who is self-employed
- are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance
How do I claim Maternity Allowance?
If you are entitled to Maternity Allowance then you can make a claim by filling in an MA1 Claim form once you are 26 weeks pregnancy. Your payments can start from 11 weeks before your baby is due.
In order to claim you will need to prove your income, prove your baby’s due date and provide a SMP1 form if you have been refused Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer.
You should get a decision on your claim within 14 days, and if you are eligible you will need to fill another form confirming your last day of employment before your maternity leave.
Does Maternity Allowance affect my other benefits?
Maternity Allowance doesn’t impact your tax credits, but it can affect how much you get for the following services due to the benefits cap:
- Council Tax Reduction
- Housing Benefit
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) - this will stop if you get Maternity Allowance
- bereavement benefits
- Carer’s Allowance
If you’re not sure whether you qualify for Maternity Allowance or not then use Gov.uk’s maternity entitlement calculator to check whether you’re eligible.