Skip to main content

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

What is it?

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is the legal minimum your employer normally has to pay you while you're on maternity leave.

Am I eligible?

To qualify you must be an employee and you must have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks continuing into the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. You also must have earned an average of at least £120 a week and you need to give your employer at least 28 days' notice that you intended to stop work to have your baby.

If your employer decides you are not eligible, they must give you a form called an SMP1 within seven days of making their decision and explain why.

How much will I get?

SMP is paid for up to 39 weeks. You get 90% of your average weekly earnings (before tax) for the first 6 weeks and then either a £156.66 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

Who pays it?

Your employer - some can claim reimbursement. SMP is paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly). Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

How do I apply?

You need to tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you want your SMP to start. 

Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop.

You need to give your employer proof of the pregnancy to get SMP. You will not get it if you do not give your employer proof of when your baby is due.

Within 21 days of your SMP start date (or as soon as possible if the baby’s born early) give your employer either your MATB1 certificate or a letter from your doctor or midwife.

Your maternity certificate is provided no more than 20 weeks before your due date.

Any age limits?

Aged 16 and over. 

Is it means-tested?


How long does it last?

39 weeks.

Any effect on other benefits?

Overlaps with some national insurance benefits. Counts in full for means-tested benefits. Only counts for tax credits if over a certain amount.

Are there any dependant's additions?


Is it payable in the European Union?

Yes if it is a UK employer in the EU.

Can I challenge the decision?

Yes. If you disagree with a Statutory Maternity Pay decision made by your employer, you can contact HM Revenue and Customs Statutory Payments Disputes Team.

If you satisfy conditions with more than one employer you are entitled to SMP from each.

How to contact us

You can get in touch with the Tackling Poverty Team by emailing or by calling us on 01698 332551.

Page last updated:
16 Sep 2022

Help us improve this pageClose

We're sorry this page didn't meet your expectations this time. Please let us know if you have any feedback to help us improve the content.

If you have a question or comment about a council service or would like a reply, please contact us.

Thank you for your feedback