If you’re self-employed, or an employee but haven’t been working for your employer for long enough or your average pay is less than £113 a week, you won’t be able to claim Statutory Maternity Pay, but you may be entitled to another benefit called Maternity Allowance.
What is Maternity Allowance?
What is it? Maternity Allowance is a benefit paid to pregnant women by the government.
Who gets it? You may be able to get it if in the 66 weeks before your baby’s due:
- you were employed for at least 26 weeks
- you were earning £30 or more a week for at least 13 of those weeks - they don’t have to be together
- you can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay
- you’re working and your average pay is less than £113 a week
- you’ve only just left a job but qualify to get Maternity Allowance.
You won’t get Maternity Allowance if:
- you’re unemployed
- you haven’t worked enough qualifying weeks
- earn less than £30 a week.
Find out more about whether you qualify for Maternity Allowance on the GOV.UK website
How much is Maternity Allowance?
Maternity Allowance is tax free so if you qualify for Maternity Allowance, you’ll get:
- 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) up to a maximum of £140.98 a week for up to 39 weeks.
- If you haven’t enough qualifying weeks or made enough NI contributions, you could get £27 a week for up to 14 weeks.
You also receive Class 1 National Insurance credits automatically while you’re getting Maternity allowance. These credits are important because they count towards your State Pension entitlement.
How long can I get Maternity Allowance for?
Maternity Allowance is paid for up to 39 weeks.
You can start your claim from the 26th week of your pregnancy.
The earliest you can get your first payment is 11 weeks before your baby is due.
“Being my own boss was great, but when I needed to take time off to have Josh, I thought I’d just discovered the big downside – no Statutory Maternity Pay. Then I found out about Maternity Allowance. What a relief! Dead easy to claim, and I got the maximum amount each week. More than £5,000 tax free.” – Sharon, 35 years old, mother of 2 year old Josh
Maternity Allowance if you’re self-employed
Maternity Allowance can be a valuable boost to your income if you’re self-employed and take time off to have a baby.
To get the full amount of Maternity Allowance, you need to have paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date.
When you make your claim, The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will check you’ve paid enough Class 2 NI Contributions. Or you can check yourself on the GOV.UK website
If you haven’t paid enough to get the full rate (£140.98 a week), you’ll get £27 a week for 39 weeks if you meet the qualifying criteria for Maternity Allowance.
From April 2018, Class 2 NI Contributions will be abolished, but new plans are not yet in place. You can read our guide for more information on paying tax and National Insurance when self-employed.
It is possible make extra payments to make sure you get the full amount. HMRC will tell you how to do this when you make your claim. Or contact the HMRC self-employed National Insurance helpline.
Telephone:0300 200 3500
Textphone:0300 200 3519
Outside UK:+44 191 203 7010
Lines are open: 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm Saturday. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.
Find out about call charges
What if you can’t get Maternity Allowance?
If you don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance you might be able to get Income Support.
Income Support can be paid from 11 weeks before your baby’s due date to 15 weeks after the birth if:
- You don’t qualify for Maternity Allowance or Statutory Maternity pay
- You have no income or are on a low income
- You are aged 16 or over
- Aren’t working, or usually work less than 16 hours a week
- Have less than £16,000 in savings.
Your partner or spouse’s income and savings will also count and they must be working less than 24 hours a week.
If you’re a lone parent, you can continue to get Income Support up until your child reaches age 5.
How much is Income Support?
The amount of Income Support you’ll get depends on your circumstances but you will get at least £57.90 a week. When the baby is born you will also be able to claim Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit.
Find out more about Income Support and how much you could get on the GOV.UK website
Income Support is being replaced by Universal Credit. You will be told which benefit to apply for when you make your claim.
Get more help
If you’re pregnant or you’ve just had a baby and you don’t think you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance, talk to an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau or a Jobcentre Plus.
Call Jobcentre Plus: 0800 055 6688
Call the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland: 02890 823318
To claim Maternity Allowance:
Call Jobcentre Plus: 0800 055 6688
Call Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland: 02890 823318
Download a claim form from the GOV.UK websiteopens in new window.
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