Posted: Mon 17th Aug 2015
Self-employment has many upsides; the freedom and flexibility to work your own way, and the control that comes with being your own boss. One of the more questionable points of this form of employment is around access to benefits such as pensions and maternity pay. In the first of a five part series with Legal & General, we look at maternity allowances for the self-employed and what employers need to offer their employees.
For the self-employed
If you're self-employed, or earn less than Â£112 a week (in the 2015-16 tax year), you don't qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP), but should be able to get maternity allowance, which provides up to the same amount as SMP. To qualify for maternity allowance, you need to have been self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due. You must also have been earning at least Â£30 a week over any 13-week period. If you're self-employed you must have paid class 2 national insurance contributions for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby's due.
To claim the allowance, download a claim form from the GOV.UK website. Alternatively you can call Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688. You can also find a maternity pay calculator here to help you work out how much you might get.
For employers (the position relating to your employees)
Employees are eligible for SMP if they have been with the same employer for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the week the employee is due to give birth, and have been earning on average at least Â£112 a week (in the 2015-16 tax year).
Your employees can start maternity leave from as early as 11 weeks before the baby is due, right up until the day after the baby is born. By law, employees must take at least two weeks off work after the baby's birth.
Your employee has to tell you that they want to stop work to have a baby, and let you know the date they want maternity pay to start, in writing. At least 28 days' notice and proof of pregnancy (such as a doctor's note) should be given by the employee and if they decide not to return to work after maternity leave, you can request some maternity pay be paid back.
This is an excerpt from The Rough Guide to Work & Money by Melanie Wright. For more tips on how to access self-employment benefits, download a free version of the ebook here.