If you become pregnant and you have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks (i.e. six months) or more prior to the 'notification week’ (NW), you will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

If you become pregnant and you have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks (i.e. six months) or more prior to the 'notification week’, you will qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). The 'notification week' is 15 weeks before the baby is due. If you qualify for SMP then it is your employer’s statutory obligation to pay it.

The actual period of maternity leave can begin any time after 14 weeks before the baby is due, but the maternity pay period will not commence until the 11th week before the due date.

SMP is payable for a maximum period of 39 weeks. The first six weeks of SMP are at 9/10ths of average gross weekly earnings (which you will receive net of tax and employee's NI). The remaining weeks of the maternity pay period (up to a maximum of 33 weeks) qualify for maternity pay at the current SMP rate or continue at 9/10ths of the average gross earnings, whichever is the lower. Please see the rate and thresholds page for up-to-date SMP rates.

Because your employer is classed as a small employer they can usually reclaim all the costs involved. You should provide your employer with a Maternity Certificate (MATB1) for this purpose. The MATB1 is issued 20 weeks before the baby's due date, and you can ask your doctor or midwife for it. Stafftax will calculate and apply to HMRC on your employer's behalf to receive the SMP rebate. We will also issue payslips for you throughout the period of your maternity leave, showing SMP paid and any Tax and NI deductions.

You should advise your employer during your Notification Week of when you intend to start your maternity leave. However you can change this date providing 28 days notice is given in writing. To qualify for SMP, you do not have to intend to return to work after your baby is born.

All domestic employees have a right to return to work on the same terms as you were previously employed. If you are not returning to work then Stafftax will send you a P45 at the end of your period of SMP. You are technically still employed until then. If you want to return, you are entitled to an additional 13 weeks unpaid leave before returning to work.

information for domestic workers

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

When your employee is off sick for longer than three days you have the responsibility as their employer to administer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on their behalf. The first three consecutive days (excluding days not normally worked) of illness are known as 'waiting days' and any payment during this period is at your discretion. From the fourth consecutive day SSP can be paid instead of, or as a part of the normal rate of pay. Please refer to our Rates and Thresholds page for details of the current SSP rate.

Changes to the law from 6 April 2014

From the start of the tax year 2014/15, The Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS) which allowed, in certain circumstances, employers to recover SSP has been abolished. Employers will no longer be to reclaim SSP although recovery of unclaimed SSP for previous tax years may be possible for a limited period. In replacement of the PTS, the government have announced they will be moving the funding into a new scheme as part of the cross-government Health, Work and Wellbeing Initiative. Under this new scheme, which is expected to launch in 2015, help will be made available to employees who have been incapacitated for four weeks or more, to get them back to work.

Introducing an incentive

Incentives are not a legal requirement but because many employers are dependent on their employees coming to work an increasing number now offer an incentive instead. An incentive can be a Friday afternoon off, a voucher or a meal at a local restaurant. If you decide to offer an incentive make sure you include the terms in the employment contract.