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Chapter 15: Maternity, paternity and other parental payments
This chapter covers:
1. What are maternity, paternity and other parental payments (here)
2. Who is eligible (here)
3. Amount of benefit (here)
4. Claiming maternity, paternity and other parental payments (here)
5. Challenging a decision (here)
6. Other benefits and tax credits (here)
Basic facts
– Women having a baby can claim statutory maternity pay if they have an employer, or maternity allowance if they have recently worked.
– The mother’s partner can claim statutory paternity pay.
– Parents adopting a child can claim statutory adoption pay (SAP) and statutory paternity pay (SPP) – one partner can claim SAP and the other SPP.
– Either partner in a couple can claim statutory shared parental pay instead of statutory maternity, paternity or adoption pay.
- Parents whose child dies or is stillborn may be eligible for statutory parental bereavement pay from their employer.
– Part-time and full-time students are eligible for these benefits.
1. What are maternity, paternity and other parental payments
Statutory maternity pay
You can get statutory maternity pay (SMP) for 39 weeks if you are pregnant or have just had a baby, have an employer and earn at least £120 a week (April 2020 rate).
Maternity allowance
If you cannot get SMP but you have recently worked, either employed or self-employed, you may be able to get maternity allowance (MA) for 39 weeks. You may also qualify if you have helped your partner with her/his self-employment. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details.
Statutory paternity pay
You can get statutory paternity pay (SPP) for two weeks if your partner is having a baby and you are taking leave from work to care for her or for the child. You can also get statutory shared parental pay (SSPP) in some circumstances. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details. Unmarried partners, including same-sex partners, can claim SPP.
Statutory adoption pay
You can get statutory adoption pay (SAP) for 39 weeks if you are adopting a child and are earning at least £120 a week from employment (April 2020 rate). If a couple (including same-sex couples) are adopting a child, one can claim SAP and the other can claim SPP for two weeks (or SSPP, in some circumstances).
Statutory shared parental pay
You or your partner can get SSPP instead of SMP, MA or SAP in certain circumstances.
Statutory parental bereavement pay
You can get statutory parental bereavement pay for up to two weeks if a child dies or is stillborn and you are earning at least £120 a week from employment (April 2020 rate).
2. Who is eligible
Students are eligible for maternity, paternity, adoption and parental bereavement benefits if they pass the basic rules for these. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for details. What follows is a brief outline of the qualifying conditions.
Statutory maternity pay
You can get statutory maternity pay (SMP) if:
you are pregnant or have recently had a baby;
you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before your expected week of birth;
your average gross earnings are at least £120 a week (April 2020 rate); and
you give your employer the correct notice.
Maternity allowance
You can get maternity allowance (MA) if you cannot get SMP and:
you are pregnant or have recently had a baby;
you have worked, either as an employee or self-employed, for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the expected week of birth; and
your average earnings are at least £30 a week.
Statutory paternity pay
You can get statutory paternity pay (SPP) if:
you are the child’s father or partner of the child’s mother and you will be caring for the child or supporting the mother;
you have worked for the same employer for 41 weeks before the baby is born;
your average gross earnings are at least £120 a week (April 2020 rate); and
you give your employer the correct notice.
You can also get SPP if you are adopting a child – you cannot get SPP for adoption and statutory adoption pay (SAP) at the same time, although one member of a couple can claim SAP while the other claims SPP (for adoption).
Statutory adoption pay
You can get SAP if:
you are adopting a child;
you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the week in which you are told you have been matched with a child for adoption;
your average gross earnings are at least £120 a week (April 2020 rate); and
you give your employer the correct notice.
Statutory shared parental pay
You can get SSPP if you are caring for a child and either:
you are the mother of the child or have adopted the child, and you have reduced your MA, SMP or SAP period; or
you are the father of the child or the partner of the mother/adopter and your partner has reduced her/his MA, SMP or SAP period.
Your partner must also meet employment and earnings tests. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more details.
Statutory parental bereavement pay
You can get statutory parental bereavement pay if:
on or after 6 April 2020, your child (under 18) died or was stillborn (after 24 weeks of pregnancy);
you have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the week before your child died and you still work for them on the day your child died;
your average gross earnings are at least £120 a week (April 2020 rate); and
you give your employer the correct notice.
3. Amount of benefit
Weekly rate from April 2020
Statutory maternity pay (SMP)
for the first six weeks
90% of average weekly earnings
for the following 33 weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
Statutory paternity pay
for two weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
Statutory adoption pay (SAP)
for 39 weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
Statutory shared parental pay (SSPP)
for 37 weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
Statutory parental bereavement pay
for two weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
Maternity allowance (MA)
for 39 weeks
£151.20 (or 90% of earnings if less)
 
You can end your SMP, SAP or MA early and your partner can take parental leave instead of you and be paid SSPP. Or you can end your SMP, SAP or MA early and get SSPP yourself, as it gives you more flexibility in when you take your paid leave. See CPAG’s Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits Handbook for more details.
4. Claiming maternity, paternity and other parental payments
You claim statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental pay and parental bereavement pay from your employer. You can get a form for maternity allowance by phoning Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688 or from gov.uk/maternity-allowance/how-to-claim.
5. Challenging a decision
If you think a decision about your maternity allowance is wrong, you can ask the DWP to look at it again. This process is known as a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. Provided you ask within the time limit (usually one month), the DWP notifies you of the decision in a ‘mandatory reconsideration notice’. If you are still not happy when you get this notice, you can appeal to the independent First-tier Tribunal. If it was not possible to ask the DWP to reconsider the decision within a month, you can ask for a late revision (within 13 months), explaining why it is late. You can also ask the DWP to look at a decision again at any time if certain grounds are met – eg, if there has been an official error.
If you disagree with your employer’s decision on your entitlement to statutory maternity, adoption, paternity or shared parental pay, or your employer fails to make a decision, you can ask HM Revenue and Customs to make a formal decision on your entitlement.
6. Other benefits and tax credits
There are a number of other benefits you may get when you have a baby, such as:
child benefit when the baby is born;
universal credit (UC), if you do not already get child tax credit (CTC) for other children you have, or working tax credit because you are working and on a low income;
CTC in some cases, or an increase in your existing award. Tell HM Revenue and Customs within three months of the birth;
in some cases, if you are 19 or under and in full-time non-advanced education or approved training on which you were accepted, enrolled or started before you turned 19, income support (IS) as a parent;
in some cases, if you are a lone parent, IS whether or not you are a full-time student;
if there is no other child under 16 in the household, a Sure Start maternity grant within six months of the birth, provided you get a qualifying benefit (including UC, IS and CTC). If you are still waiting for a decision on your UC, IS or CTC, claim the grant anyway. If you are refused the grant, rather than your claim being held until your benefit or tax credit is awarded, make another claim within three months of being awarded the benefit or tax credit;
Healthy Start vouchers.
Maternity allowance is taken into account when calculating whether the benefit cap applies (see here and here). Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental pay and parental bereavement pay are not taken into account.

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