Self-employed mums – how maternity pay works


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Being self-employed can be very appealing, no bosses to answer to and your own working schedule, however, it can be difficult to manage being a mum and self-employed when it comes to your income. I was employed when I had children, but I’ve since become self employed with all the joys and pitfalls it brings. Here’s a little guide for you if you’re pregnant or planning on becoming a mum and you are self-employed and wondering how maternity pay works.

Should I get self-employed insurance?

You should definitely consider taking up insurance for self-employed mums, to protect yourself should anything go wrong and give you peace of mind during your pregnancy, so you know you will be alright financially if you step back from working for longer than anticipated. You never know how you’re going to feel or cope.

There are many types of insurance for the self-employed, ensuring income protection if you are unable to work, for example, when pregnant.

As a self-employed mum-to-be, you’re not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, however, there is some monetary support in the form of Maternity Allowance (MA) from the government.

What is the Maternity Allowance for the self employed?

Maternity Allowance is a government benefit that you’re entitled to from around the time your baby is due – the expected week of childbirth (EWC). It is paid fortnightly, or every four weeks in arrears, you will receive this payment for up to 39 weeks, known as the Maternity Allowance Period. It is generally paid straight into your bank account.


Do I qualify for MA?

If you’re self-employed you can qualify for MA, as long as you are registered self-employed with HMRC, paying Class 2 National Insurance, or have a Small Earning Exception Certificate for a minimum of 26 weeks in the 66 weeks to and including the week before you expect to give birth. This is called the ‘test period’.

You must earn a minimum of £30 per week. The 26 weeks don’t have to be consecutive and can also include part-time work – which can count as full weeks.

When does the allowance start?

Unless you’ve otherwise specified, the Maternity Allowance Period (MAP) starts on the Sunday of the 11th week before the week you expect to have your baby if you’re not self-employed at this time.

If you still want to work on or after this time you can choose when you want your MA to start, which can be any day after you’ve stopped work to have your baby, typically it’s your first day of maternity leave. Or you can start it later than that, but be aware that the latest date you can start it is the day after you give birth.

Are there any restrictions on MA?

The earliest you can submit your claim is the start of the 26th week of pregnancy (or 11 weeks prior to your expected due date) and within three months of the date your MA period is due to start or you will lose money.

How much will my Maternity Allowance be?

From January 2019, it’s £145.18 per week for 39 weeks, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is the lesser amount. Your earnings must represent an average of any 13 weeks in your test period. These 13 weeks do not have to be consecutive so you should pick weeks with your highest earnings, in order to bring the average up and earn you more in MA. You’ll be glad to know that whilst on Maternity Allowance you don’t pay tax or NI contributions

You don’t have to stop working for the full 39 weeks, though, once you go back to work, your Maternity Allowance payments stop.

Maternity Allowance is an undeniable boost to your income especially if you are self-employed and need to take time off to have a baby, and if paired with a good insurance package, can give you the necessary peace of mind to enjoy your pregnancy.

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If you're self employed and pregnant, how does maternity pay work? Here's a little guide to your entitlements for maternity allowance and more.

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  • Reply Paula @ Mummy Vs Work

    Such a helpful post!

    With lots of people working for themselves now, this is a great starting point for them to get their finances in order 🙂

    April 8, 2019 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply Linda

    I remember being shocked when I got my first payslip with my maternity allowance on it. Nothing quite prepares you for the drop in salary. My tip would be to save as much as you can during your pregnancy to give yourself an extra cushion.

    April 8, 2019 at 5:10 pm
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