Skip to content Skip to footer

Maternity pay - what you're entitled to

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

There’s a good chance you’ll be able to get maternity pay if you're having a baby and you have a job or had one recently. You could get one of these:

  • statutory maternity pay: the standard type of maternity pay - if you're entitled to this it's the legal minimum your employer can pay you
  • contractual maternity pay: some employers offer this instead of statutory maternity pay - your contract or company maternity policy should tell you if yours does
  • Maternity Allowance: you might get this from the government if you can’t get statutory maternity pay from your employer

These payments would be as well as any maternity leave you get.

It’s also worth seeing what other help and benefits you're entitled to - such as Child Tax Credit, Healthy Start vouchers and a Sure Start grant. You can claim some benefits before you give birth, so it’s worth checking as soon as you can.

When you can get statutory maternity pay

This is the type of maternity pay that most women get. Your employer has to pay you this if:

  • you work for your employer in the 15th week before your baby is due and the 25 weeks before that (you can find your dates by entering your due date below)
  • your average pay, before tax, is at least £113 a week

Your average pay is worked out over 8 weeks, finishing roughly 15 weeks before your due date. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you're close to the minimum pay and need to work out your exact average.  

If your employer is taken over by another business your weeks of work will include time working for both employers.

If you're entitled to statutory maternity pay, also check how to get it, including what to do if your employer won't pay.

Common issues

Resigning, being sacked or being made redundant

As long as you’ve already qualified for statutory maternity pay you’ll still get it if you leave your job. The reason you leave doesn’t matter - it’s the same whether you resign, are sacked or are made redundant.

This could be different if you get contractual maternity pay. Check your contract or ask your employer for details.

If you leave your job too early to get statutory maternity pay, you might still be able to get Maternity Allowance.

You can’t be sacked for being pregnant

Your employer isn’t allowed to sack you for any reason to do with your pregnancy or maternity leave. If they do, it will be unfair dismissal because of discrimination.

If your employer sacks you to avoid paying your maternity pay, you'll still get your maternity pay as long as you've worked for them for at least 8 weeks.

If you’re self-employed

You can't get statutory maternity pay if you're a sole trader, but you might be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead.

You might be able to get statutory maternity pay if you're self-employed with your own limited company. Your company could pay your statutory maternity pay, then reclaim it from HMRC.

If you’re an agency worker

You can still get statutory maternity pay as an agency worker, even though you can’t take maternity leave. You might want to check your other maternity rights as an agency worker.

If you qualify for statutory maternity pay, your agency should pay it even if you're no longer registered with them. 

Some agencies might try to get around paying you statutory maternity pay by telling you that you’re self-employed. But this isn’t right - you can still get statutory maternity pay when you work for an agency.

If your agency won’t pay you statutory maternity pay because it says you’re self-employed, contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help. 

If you have more than one employer

You might be able to get the full amount of statutory maternity pay from more than one employer. For each employer you have, the rules are the same as if they were your only employer.

If you become pregnant again while getting statutory maternity pay

You’re still employed while you’re on maternity leave or getting statutory maternity pay. This means you can get statutory maternity pay again if you meet the normal conditions:

  • work for your employer for 26 weeks up to the 15th week before your baby is due - the 26 weeks includes time when you’re on maternity leave

  • earn at least £113 a week, on average, before tax - if you’re already on maternity leave, your average wage is likely to be based on your maternity pay, rather than your full wage.

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’d like help working out whether you can get statutory maternity pay again.

When you can get contractual maternity pay

Some jobs give you contractual maternity pay as a benefit of working there. What you get depends on your employer, but you should never be worse off than if you just got statutory maternity pay.

Check your contract or company maternity policy, or ask your employer whether you get contractual maternity pay.

You might get contractual maternity pay even if you wouldn’t be able to get statutory maternity pay. In this case you might be able to get Maternity Allowance as well.

When you can get Maternity Allowance

You might be able to get Maternity Allowance if you can’t get statutory maternity pay. It comes from the government rather than your employer.

You can usually get Maternity Allowance if you've been employed or self-employed for 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your due date. You’ll need to have earned at least £30 a week for at least 13 of those weeks.

You might also be able to get Maternity Allowance if you haven’t been employed or self-employed but your spouse or civil partner runs a business and you’ve been helping them.

The rules about Maternity Allowance can be complicated. The best ways to check what you can get are to use the calculator on GOV.UK or contact your nearest Citizens Advice for help.

If you can’t get any maternity pay

You might be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Income Support if you can’t get any maternity pay. Use our benefit calculator to find out what you can claim.

Did this advice help?
Why wasn't this advice helpful?
Did this advice help?

Thank you, your feedback has been submitted.