Do I have to pay back maternity pay if I don’t go back to work?

Understanding the rules on whether you need to pay back maternity pay if you don’t return to work

The rules on paying back maternity pay if you don’t return to work

We help you understand what you need to know about your maternity pay if you don’t return to work

Paying back maternity pay

Even with the best laid plans in the world, when you have your baby, everything can change. So what happens if you were planning to return to work but once your baby is here you decide not to? Do you have to pay back the maternity pay you received?

Here’s our guide to paying back maternity if you do not return to work.

The answer to this depends on which type of maternity pay you receive. There are two types, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP).

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

If you only received SMP you will have got 90% of your normal weekly earnings during the first six weeks of maternity leave, and for the remaining 33 weeks of statutory maternity leave, maternity pay paid at the flat rate, which is currently £156.66 or 90% of your normal weekly earnings per week, if lower.

Fortunately, if this is the case you will not be required to repay any of this should you resign from your employment during your maternity leave. 

Contractual Maternity Pay (CMP)

Some employers may offer their employee CMP that offers more than they would receive from SMP. The amount and how long it is available for is dependent upon the contract of employment. 

If you are paid CMP, for example, full pay for the first eight weeks of your maternity leave instead of 90%, your employer may have specified requirements in your contract that you need to fulfil in order to receive CMP. They may also have set out in your contract whether you will be required to return to work for a set period at the end of the maternity leave in order to be entitled to CMP. It’s important to check your contract to be sure what is expected from your employer. There may also be circumstances in which CMP will be recoverable by them outlined in your contract.

Regardless of a contractual right to recover CMP from you, it is only the pay you receive in excess of your SMP that they are able to seek to recover. They cannot recover the SMP that you are eligible to receive, even if you resign during maternity leave. They also cannot force you to return even if they are entitled to recover CMP. It is entirely your decision as to whether you want to return from maternity leave.

It's always a good idea to clarify with your HR department if there are any aspects of your entitlements you are not clear of. In the event that CMP is recoverable realistic payment plans can be negotiated.

Do I have to pay back maternity pay if I don’t go back to work?