Maternity pay for the self-employed

When it comes to another mouth to feed in the family, the financial pressure can seem overwhelming, and that’s when you’ve got Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) coming in from an employer.

But you’ve given up being employed in favour of being self-employed – so who is going to provide the maternity pay? The brutal truth is that you aren’t entitled to maternity pay from an organisation if you’re a contractor – no matter how long you’ve been working there.

The good news is that as a self-employed mum, you may be entitled to financial help from the government through something called Maternity Allowance (MA). It’s a state benefit for mums who are working but aren’t entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay.

OK, Maternity Allowance might not mean you’ll be swapping Primark for Harrods anytime soon, but it’ll be a welcome top-up to your bank balance. Free cash can only be a good thing, right? Think of it as a nice reward for all those years spent paying into the system. You’ve earnt it.

Got questions around Maternity Allowance? Then read on.

I’m a man. Is there such a thing as Paternity Allowance?

Nice try. But the answer is no, unfortunately not. Dads with permanent contracts are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP), but there isn’t an equivalent for non-permanent working dads.

I’m a mum. Can I get Maternity Allowance?

You may be entitled to receive self-employed maternity pay if one of the following applies:

• You’re employed, but aren’t entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay
• You’re self-employed, registered with the HMRC, pay Class 2 National Insurance (including voluntary National Insurance), or have a Small Earning Exception Certificate
• You’ve recently stopped working

In the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date (called the Test Period), you must have been:

• Employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks – the weeks don’t have to be consecutive and can include part-time work
• Earning £30 a week or more in at least 13 weeks – again, the weeks don’t have to be consecutive and can consist of part-time work

Can I get Maternity Allowance if I’m not working?

You may still qualify if you’ve recently stopped working. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had different jobs or periods out of work.

If you’re not employed or self-employed but have been helping your self-employed other half without being paid, you might be able to get Maternity Allowance at a rate of £27 a week for 14 weeks.

How much will I receive?

£136.78 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings – whichever is lower. It’s not taxable or means-tested.

How many weeks is Maternity Allowance paid for?

You will receive payment for up to 39 weeks, known as the Maternity Allowance Period.

When do the payments start?

Unless you’ve otherwise specified, the Maternity Allowance Period (MAP) starts on the 11th week before your baby is due.

If you still want to work during this time, you can specify when you want your Maternity Allowance to start – it can be any day after you’ve finished work to have your baby.

The latest date it can begin is the day after you give birth.

How often will I be paid?

It’s paid fortnightly, or every four weeks in arrears.

What are the Maternity Allowance rules?

• Maternity Allowance isn’t payable for any day worked, bar 10 ‘keeping in touch’
• You must inform JobCentre Plus of any work you undertake while receiving Maternity Allowance
• The earliest you can submit your claim is the start of the 26th week of your pregnancy (or 14 weeks before your due date)
• You must claim within the three months your Maternity Allowance Period (see above) is due to start

What happens if my baby is born early?

You can claim straight away – your Maternity Allowance test period won’t change.

What will I need to provide when I apply for Maternity Allowance?

• Proof of your income (payslips or a Small Earnings Exemption Certificate)
• Proof of the baby’s due date (a Maternity Certificate [MAT B1] or note from the doctor/midwife)

Check out these useful links for more info.

Read about claiming Maternity Allowance on the government’s website.

Find out if you’re eligible for Maternity Allowance with the Maternity Allowance calculator.

Ready to claim?

Get cracking with the Maternity Allowance claim form or call the Maternity Allowance helpline on 0800 055 6688.

Happy parenting!