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Maternity pay - how to get it

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

Once you know what type of maternity pay you’re entitled to, there are a few things you need to do to get it.

Get statutory maternity pay

This is the standard kind of maternity pay. It comes from your employer, and there are 3 steps to getting it:

  • tell your employer you’re pregnant
  • confirm your pregnancy with a form or letter from your doctor or midwife - you'll need to do this at least 15 weeks before your due date
  • give your employer at least 28 days’ notice of when you’d like your maternity pay to start

You can do most of this at the same time you arrange your maternity leave.

You’ll be paid by your employer in the same way you get your usual pay. You can check how much you’ll get in advance.

Telling your employer you’re pregnant

Once you’re happy to tell your employer you’re pregnant (for example, after your 12-week scan) it’s best to let them know in writing, and to keep a copy.

After you tell your employer you're pregnant you're entitled to rights while you're pregnant at work. These rights include protection from discrimination and paid time off for antenatal appointments.

You shouldn't have to worry about telling your employer you're pregnant. It's discrimination to sack you, cut your hours or treat you unfairly in any other way because of your pregnancy.

Firing you because you’re pregnant will be unfair dismissal as well as discrimination.

You'll still get your maternity pay if your employer sacks you to avoid paying your statutory maternity pay and you've been working for them for at least 8 weeks.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're worried about telling your employer you're pregnant.

Confirming your pregnancy and due date

To get your maternity pay, you’ll need to give your employer proof that you’re pregnant. Your proof should also show your due date. You should do this at least 15 weeks before your due date. You can show them either:

  • a maternity certificate (form MATB1) that you’ll get from your midwife or doctor after your 20-week scan
  • a letter from your doctor or midwife

Get contractual maternity pay

Contractual maternity pay is an extra benefit some employers offer. It’s paid in the same way as your normal pay.

Check your contract or ask your employer what you need to do, as it could be different from getting statutory maternity pay. For example, you might need to repay some contractual maternity pay if you don’t go back to work after your maternity leave.

You might also be able to get details from a staff handbook or your union or staff association.  

If you’d like help understanding your contractual maternity pay or have problems getting it from your employer, contact your nearest Citizens Advice

Get Maternity Allowance

You might be able to claim Maternity Allowance from the government if you can’t get statutory or contractual maternity pay. You can apply using the Maternity Allowance claim form - the form tells you where to send it.

If you’re claiming Maternity Allowance because your employer has said they won’t give you statutory maternity pay, there’s some extra paperwork. Your employer should have given you a form called ‘SMP1’, saying why they won’t pay statutory maternity pay. You’ll need to send this with with your claim form.

If your employer doesn’t give you form SMP1

Your employer should give you form SMP1 within:

  • 7 days of saying they won’t pay your statutory maternity pay and

  • 28 days of when you tell them you'll be taking maternity leave

Contact the HMRC statutory disputes team if your employer doesn't give you form SMP1 on time.

HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team
Room BP 2301
Benton Park View
Longbenton
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1YS

Tel: 0300 056 0630

If your employer refuses to pay your statutory maternity pay

Contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) if your employer won't pay you statutory maternity pay and you think they should. Explain why you think you have a right to statutory maternity pay. HMRC will confirm whether you should get statutory maternity pay.

You'll need to contact HMRC within 6 months of when your employer tells you they won't pay your statutory maternity pay.

Your employer has to give you their reasons on a form called ‘SMP1’. Have this form ready when you call HMRC - or tell them if you weren't given it.

HMRC Statutory Payments Disputes Team
Room BP 2301
Benton Park View
Longbenton
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE98 1YS

Tel: 0300 056 0630

If HMRC think you should get statutory maternity pay, they’ll tell your employer to pay you. If your employer still doesn’t pay, HMRC will fine them and pay you directly.

Appeal an HMRC decision

You can appeal to the tax tribunal if HMRC support your employer.

You can also ask HMRC to look at their decision again if something’s changed, or if you have new information.

Before you appeal, it’s a good idea to contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If your employer doesn’t give you form SMP1

Your employer should give you form SMP1 within:

  • 7 days of saying they won’t pay your statutory maternity pay and

  • 28 days of when you tell them you'll be taking maternity leave

If your employer doesn't give you form SMP1 on time, mention it to HMRC when writing to them to ask for a decision.

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