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Premature babies and death

What happens if your baby is born early? You will still qualify for maternity Preparing to welcome a new baby? These are exciting times. Yet many parents-to-be are unsure how it will affect their employment. How much pay will you receive? How much leave can you claim?  Here, we answer typical queries about maternity pay and leave entitlements.


Qualifying for Statutory Maternity Leave

To receive Statutory Maternity Leave you must meet certain criteria. You qualify if you’re an employee, not a ‘worker’. How long you’ve been in your job is key. You must have been employed for 26 weeks continuing into the qualifying week. What you earn is also relevant. You won’t qualify if your pay doesn’t exceed £120 on average per week.


Also, you must give the correct notice. At least 15 weeks before your due date, tell your employer. Advise when the baby is due. Also notify when you want to start your maternity leave. Ideally, do so in writing. Your employer can ask for it. Then, your employer will write, within 28 days, confirming your start and end dates.


HMRC’s maternity planner is a useful tool.


Statutory Maternity Pay

Generally, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) lasts up to 39 weeks. Although, you’ll receive less if you return to work beforehand. You’re entitled to SMP from the day your maternity leave commences. It may be paid earlier. Typically, this occurs if you’re sick in the 4 weeks prior to your due date. 


SMP qualifying criteria

Again, to qualify for SMP you must meet the criteria. You must earn on average at least £120 a week. You should provide the correct notice. This is at least 28 days. Do so in writing if requested. If you don’t qualify, seek the Maternity Allowance from the Department for Work and Pensions/Jobcentre Plus.


Maternity pay and leave entitlements

Also provide proof that you’re pregnant. This can be a letter from your doctor or midwife. Alternatively, show your MATB1 certificate. Then, your employer must confirm how much SMP you’ll receive. This happens within 28 days. Plus, they must advise when SMP will start and stop. Finally, you must have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks continuing into the ‘qualifying week’. This is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.


leave and pay entitlements. Both apply if your baby dies after it is born. This is also true in the event of a stillbirth after the start of your 24th week of pregnancy.


How much am I entitled to?

Pay is 90% of your average weekly pay before tax. This applies for the first six weeks. Subsequently, for the following 33 weeks you will receive either £151.97 a week or 90% of your average weekly pay before tax (if this is less than the statutory amount). Average pay includes sick pay, holiday pay and back pay. It also incorporates bonuses and SMP from a previous pregnancy.


Average pay calculation

Bear in mind how average pay is worked out. It isn’t the average of normal salary or most recent pay. It’s calculated on the eight weeks prior to the end of the qualifying week. Changes can raise the SMP rate. If there’s a rate increase, don’t worry. You’ll receive the higher amount when the rise takes effect.


Extending your maternity leave

You can extend your maternity period for three months. This takes it up to 12 months in total. However, this leave will be unpaid. During this time, you will accrue holiday pay. It can be added to the end of the paid maternity period. So long as your employer agrees. Employers are legally obliged to pay this holiday pay. Remember, you can transfer it forward over the holiday year end.


KIT days

Receiving Statutory Maternity Pay? You’re entitled to 10 Keep In Touch (KIT) days. One KIT day can be a full day. Equally, it can be a half day, even 30 minutes. KIT days don’t affect your pay. Always agree KIT days beforehand. It makes them beneficial for you and your employer.


Returning to work

Clear, written communication is important. Advise your length of absence from work and return date. Of course, you can change your mind. If you alter the date, tell your employer promptly. They may need to extend maternity cover. So, give at least two weeks’ notice.


Paternity pay and leave

Of course, there’s more to consider than maternity pay and leave entitlements. Taking time off to help your partner with the baby? Typically, you’ll be entitled to one or two weeks’ paid paternity leave. Also, you should receive up to two weeks’ Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP).


Statutory Paternity Pay rules

You must take the SPP as one period. You cannot split it. Also, Statutory Paternity Pay cannot start before the birth. SPP must be completed within 56 days of the birth, or due date if the baby is born early.


Notify your employer

First, tell your employer the due date. Decide how much leave to take. Confirm when you want it to commence. Do all this at least 15 weeks before the baby is due. You can ask for Paternity Pay at the same time. Use form SC3 (or your employer’s own version).


Protected rights

Your employment rights are protected during paternity leave. So, you won’t miss out on pay rises. You’ll also accrue holiday. Check out HMRC’s paternity planner.


Sharing the entitlement

There’s another option. Why not share your entitlements? You can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay. This must happen in the first year after the birth. How you take Shared Parental Leave (SPL) is up to you. Take leave in blocks separated by periods of work. Alternatively, take it all in one go. You can choose to be away from work together. Or, you can opt to stagger the leave and pay.


Eligibility for shared pay and leave

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) is £151.97 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. To receive SPL and ShPP both parents must meet the eligibility criteria. These vary for birth and adoptive parents.


Support for employers

Does your business have queries about maternity pay and leave entitlements? Keen to know more about your responsibilities to parents-to-be? Talk to our experts. Call 01785 243276.