JMA News



SMP            Statutory Maternity Pay

EWC           Expected Week of Confinement – ‘week baby is due’

QW             Qualifying Week, 15th week before the baby is due

LEL             Lower Earnings Limit, minimum average earnings level

MAT B1       Certificate of pregnancy

MPP            Maternity Pay Period

KIT Days     Keep In Touch Days

Proof of pregnancy

  • Form MAT B1 will be available from the midwife from 20 weeks before the EWC.
  • The time limit for producing this evidence is 21 days from the start of the SMP pay period.

Qualifying conditions

  • Employee must have been employed continuously for a period of at least 26 weeks ending with the QW – the 15th week before the EWC.

Average earnings

  • The average weekly earnings in the eight weeks up to and including the QW to be at least the LEL – currently £123.


  • The employee is required to give 28 days notice for Maternity Leave.
  • The employee has the right to choose when she wants to start Maternity leave, but the date cannot be more than 11 weeks before the EWC.
  • If the employee doesn’t choose to take the full leave entitlement, she must give 28 days notice of when she intends to start work again.

Length of maternity leave 

  • All employees, regardless of length of employment are entitled to 52 weeks Maternity Leave. (However if the employee doesn’t satisfy the qualifying conditions detailed above then the leave would be without pay).

SMP rates

  • SMP is paid for the first 39 weeks
  • First 6 weeks @ 90% of average weekly earnings
  • Then 33 weeks @ the lower of 90% of average weekly earnings or £172.48 per week.
  • A further 13 weeks at nil pay


  • If the company’s annual liability for NIC’s is less than £45,000.00 then 100% of SMP is recoverable.
  • An additional amount as compensation for NIC’s you pay on the SMP. The rate is 3.5%.

Terms & Conditions during maternity leave

  • An employee’s contract of employment continues throughout Maternity Leave.
  • An employee continues to accrue their statutory annual leave entitlement of a minimum of 5.6 weeks. However an employee should not take annual leave during maternity leave. You should instead allow the employee to take any untaken leave before and/or after her maternity leave.
  • If it is not possible for Annual leave to be taken as detailed above Holiday pay can be paid during Maternity leave but only by mutual agreement.

Contact and work during maternity leave

  • During the maternity leave period you can make reasonable contact with an employee – and she may make contact with you.
  • Keeping-in-touch (KIT) days during maternity leave

Employees may, in agreement with you, do up to ten days work known as kit days without affecting their right to maternity leave or pay.

Additional Information

  • Your employee can change her mind about the date she starts her leave but she should give you 28 days notice.
  • Maternity leave lasts up to 52 weeks.
  • SMP and Maternity leave start if the employee is off work with a pregnancy related illness in the 4 weeks before the week the baby is due.
  • Average earnings include all elements of pay made in the set period, this includes overtime and bonus payments.
  • During the SMP period the employee loses the right to SSP – Statutory Sick Pay.

SMP Checklist

  • The employee has given medical evidence of the date the baby is due.
  • The employee was continuously employed by you for the required period.
  • The employee has high enough average weekly earnings for the set period.
  • The employee has given you acceptable notice for the start of the MPP.