Dear Jenny

Jenny Nuttall has been a qualified employment solicitor for five years and advises employers and employees on all aspects of employment issues. She also writes the Dear Jenny employment column which covers both employee and employer problems. You can read queries relating to this month’s topic below and previous articles under the topics on the right.

You can pose a question to Jenny by emailing her at or by filling the contact form on the left below. Please write Dear Jenny as the subject.

Jenny Nuttall

Statutory Maternity Leave

Q) I have just found out that I am pregnant and I am wondering whether I will be eligible for statutory maternity pay or not. I’ve only been working in my current job for the last two months.

A) First of all congratulations! Secondly, even though you have just started your new job, you might be eligible to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer. To receive SMP you must have continuously worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks up to what is called ‘the qualifying week’ before the birth. The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before your expected week of childbirth, or to put it an easier way, when you are approximately 25 weeks pregnant. So you can calculate how long you will have been working in your current job by the time you will be 25 weeks pregnant. If you will have been there more than 26 weeks, then you should be eligible for SMP.

In order to qualify for SMP you also have to be earning at least £111 a week, give your employer proof that you are pregnant and give the correct notice. Proof is a MATB1 form that you will get from your midwife or a letter from your GP. The correct notice is at least 15 weeks before your due date, or again before you are 25 weeks pregnant, you must inform your employer when your baby is due and when you wish to start your maternity leave. You must also say when you wish to start your SMP. Your employer must then write to you within 28 days to confirm your maternity leave start and end dates and whether you are eligible for SMP. If you are not, they must give you an SMP1 form within 7 days and tell you why you are not eligible. If you are not eligible, then you can apply for Statutory Maternity Allowance, which is paid for the same amount of time at the same rate.

The current rate of maternity pay is for 39 weeks, at 90% of your average weekly earnings for 6 weeks, then £138.18 or 90% of your weekly earnings, whichever is the lower for the remaining 33 weeks. SMP is subject to tax and NI.

Best of luck and if I can help you any more please contact me on 01229585555 or

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