If you are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay you may be eligible to claim Maternity Allowance.
Not everyone can receive Maternity Allowance but those who do are usually:
– Employed but not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay
– Recently unemployed
– Taking part in unpaid for the business of your spouse/civil partner
You need to have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before your baby is due to be born. The 26 weeks do not need to be consecutive – for example you could have worked for 13 weeks with one company, been unemployed for three sand then started with another company.
You will also need to have earned at least £30 per week for at least 13 weeks. Again, these do not need to be consecutive weeks.
You do not need to be in employment to qualify for Maternity Allowance as long as you meet the above criteria.
The maximum amount of Maternity Allowance is £172.48 per week or 90% of your average earnings – whichever is lower.
If you are self-employed your National Insurance Contributions will be taken into consideration rather than your level of earnings.
You can combine periods of employment and self-employment to meet the 26-week limit.
Your self-employment does not need to be full-time. You can include any weeks where you worked as self-employed for one day or part of a day.
To get the maximum amount of £172.48 you need to have been registered as self-employed with HMRC for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before your baby is due to be born and paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions for at least 13 weeks out of that 66-week period.
If you have paid less than 13 weeks of Class 2 National Insurance Contributions the amount of Maternity Allowance will be based on how many weeks that you have paid.
If you have not paid any Class 2 National Insurance Contributions, you will be paid £27 per week.
If you have not paid any, or 13 weeks of, Class 2 National Insurance Contributions you can contact HMRC and make these payments as a lump sum to qualify for the maximum amount of Maternity Allowance.
Class 2 National Insurance Contributions are £4.01 per week. By paying up to £52.13 you can qualify for 39 weeks of £172.48 per week which totals £6,726.72.
Unpaid work for spouse/civil partner
This will be based on your partner paying Class 2 National Insurance Contributions. If your partner has not yet paid Class 2 National Insurance Contributions, then they can make payments early to help you qualify for Maternity Allowance.
When can I apply?
How to Apply
You need to complete a form called an MA1 form and send it to the DWP.
You can find the form as well as the guidance notes and the Test Period Tables here.
The Test Period Tables will help you identify what dates you need to use to work out your 66-week period.
You can either fill in the form online and print it off, print the form off and fill it in offline or if you do not have a printer, you can order a form from the DWP using the online service here.
Alternatively, you can contact Jobcentre Plus claim lines:
Telephone: 0800 055 6688
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Relay UK: if you can’t hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0800 055 6688
Completing the MA1 form
The MA1 form can look very complicated and seem very confusing. If you need help to complete the form, you can reach out to us for assistance in completing it or checking the form.
Not all questions in the application form may apply to you and the form includes questions for every type of person applying such as the employed, self-employed or agency workers.
You must send your MATB1 certificate which should be provided at your 20-week scan. It is advisable to take copies of your MATB1 certificate as you will need to send the original to the DWP and you might need to show proof of your MATB1 certificate to other people, such as your employer.
If you are employed but not eligible to be paid Statutory Maternity Pay by your employer, you must provide a form called an SMP1 form. This is a form completed by your employer which explains why they cannot pay you Statutory Maternity Pay.
The form does tell you when you need to refer to the Test Period Tables and the form also tells you when you do not need to answer certain questions.
For example, Question 64 says “Are you or were you doing any unpaid work for your self-employed spouse or civil partner’s business during your Test Period?”
If the answer is No, it then says “Go to question 87.”
An example of dates and Test Periods
If your baby’s due date is 10 January 2024 you would go to the 2024 Test Period table.
Find the week which includes this date which would be 7 January 2024-13 January 2024. The table then tells you that:
The first day of your Test Period is the 2 October 2022
The last day of your Test Period is the 6 January 2024
The 15th week before the week your baby is due is 24 September 2023
The date you can claim from is 1 October 2023
In this example, you would need to have worked or been self-employed for at least 26 weeks between the 2 October 2022 and 6 January 2024.
You will need to send payslips if you were employed as proof of your earnings for 13 weeks for the DWP to calculate how much Maternity Allowance you are entitled to.
These 13 weeks do not need to be consecutive. It is usually advisable to choose the 13 weeks where you have earned the most in order to get the most amount of Maternity Allowance. For example, if you get paid double time when working Bank Holidays, you can choose to send the payslips which include the times when you have worked on a Bank Holiday.
If you are paid weekly you will need to send 13 payslips, if you are paid fortnightly you will need to send 7 payslips, if you are paid 4-weekly you will need to send 4 payslips and if you are paid monthly you will need to send 3 payslips.
Maternity Allowance and other benefits
You may be entitled to receive other benefits as well as Maternity Allowance such as Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit.
For these benefits, Maternity Allowance is counted as income and deducted in full.
You should get a response from the DWP with their decision within 20 working days. The decision letter should tell you how much you will be paid and will ask you to confirm your last day of employment.
If you disagree with the decision, you can challenge is. You can find more information about how to challenge a DWP decision here.