Maternity Pay For The Self-Employed

Customisable business insurance
13 June 2022
5 minute read

What Can I Claim And How?

Welcoming a new baby is one of the most exciting moments in life – the not so exciting bit? Working out what maternity pay you can claim.

Like Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay isn’t available to the self-employed – something to consider if you’re thinking about taking the leap. But don’t despair, you can still get some financial help in the form of Maternity Allowance.

While you’re picking out names and nursery colours, take a moment to find out everything you need to know with our guide to self-employed Maternity Allowance.

Maternity allowance

What is Maternity Allowance?

Maternity Allowance is a benefit provided by the government for self-employed workers who can’t claim Statutory Maternity Pay (though you might be able to claim SMP if you’re self-employed with your own limited company).

Like Statutory Maternity Pay, you can start claiming Maternity Allowance from when you are 26 weeks pregnant and it lasts for up to 39 weeks. You may also qualify for Maternity Allowance if you’ve recently stopped working or do unpaid work for your spouse or civil partner’s business.

Who is eligible for Maternity Allowance?

To qualify for the government’s Maternity Allowance, you must have been employed or registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due (known as the ‘test’ period).

It doesn’t matter whether you worked consecutive days or had stints of unemployment in that time (for example if you only worked one day of one particular week, that would still qualify as a ‘working week’). But for at least 13 of those weeks, you need to have earned £30 a week or more.

Sadly, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 pregnancies will end in miscarriage in the UK, which can bring emotional turmoil and financial uncertainty if you feel unable to work. There is some provision for baby loss in the government’s Maternity Allowance.

How much Maternity Allowance will I get?

How much Maternity Allowance you can claim depends on the number of Class 2 National Insurance contributions you’ve made.

Read the table below for an idea of what sort of maternity allowance your working status might entitle you to:

Maternity Allowance Length of Allowance Requirements
Self-employed £27-£156.66 per week (dependent on Class 2 National Insurance contributions) Up to 39 weeks You must have been registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks (the ‘test period’) before your baby is due. You must have been earning £30 a week or more for at least 13 weeks of the test period
If you've recently stopped working £156.66 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings - whichever is less Up to 39 weeks You must have been employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks (the ‘test period’) before your baby is due
If you do unpaid work for your spouse or civil partner's business £27 per week Up to 14 weeks You must not be employed or self-employed. Your spouse or civil partner needs to have registered as self-employed with HMRC in the 26 week test period. Your spouse or civil partner much pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions

Do you pay tax on Maternity Allowance?

In short, no – you don’t have to pay any tax on Maternity Allowance. This differs from Statutory Maternity Pay, which is paid in the same way as earnings with the usual tax, National Insurance and pension deductions.

How to increase Maternity Allowance?

Sadly being pregnant doesn’t make the bills go away. If the numbers just aren’t adding up, one way to increase your Maternity Allowance is by paying additional Class 2 National Insurance contributions (which are £3.15 a week).

HMRC will tell you how many additional Class 2 National Insurance contributions you need to pay when you apply for Maternity Allowance. By topping up, you can increase your Maternity Allowance to up to £156.66 per week for 39 weeks.

When does Maternity Allowance start?

You can start claiming Maternity Allowance from when you are 26 weeks pregnant. Payments will start from 11 weeks before your due date at the earliest, and the day after your baby is born at the latest.

How to apply for Maternity Allowance?

Ready to get the ball rolling? You can find the MA1 Maternity Allowance claim form on the government’s website. You’ll need to either order a form, or fill it out and print it, and send it back. On the MA1, you’ll need to provide information on your employment (the ‘test period’) in the 66 weeks before your due date.

Make sure you have the following information to hand:

  • Proof of income – such as pay slips
  • Proof of your due date – which could be a MATB1 certificate or letter from your doctor or midwife
  • An SMP1 form – if you were refused Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer

How to check what you’re entitled to:

Still confused about exactly how much you can claim? You can calculate the amount of Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay or Leave and Maternity Allowance that you’re entitled to using the government’s tool.

What other benefits are there for pregnant people?

If you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance, don’t despair. You may still be able to claim some financial support from the government, including:

  • Universal Credit – a monthly payment for those who need help with living costs, calculated on factors like income, age, and whether you have children
  • Sure Start Maternity Grant – a one-off payment of £500 which is available to you if you don’t have any other children under the age of 16, and if you or your partner receives certain benefits such as Universal Credit or income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) – if you have a disability or health condition which affects how much you can work, and have paid a certain amount of National Insurance contributions or credits
  • Child Benefit – a weekly payment available to parents bringing up one child or more under the age of 16 (if you or your partner earns over £50,000 a year, this benefit will be taxed. You are ineligible once you or your partner earns £60,000 a year or more)

Who can help answer your questions?

If you’re still unsure about what maternity pay you can claim and what support you qualify for, get in touch with your local Jobcentre Plus or Citizens Advice, who can help with any questions.

This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer.

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