Statutory Maternity Pay and Leave: employer guide

Eligibility and proof of pregnancy

Some employees won’t qualify for both leave and pay.

Statutory Maternity Leave

Employees must:

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

Employees must:

  • be on your payroll in the ‘qualifying week’ - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • give you the correct notice
  • give you proof they’re pregnant
  • have been continuously employed by you for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the qualifying week
  • earn at least £116 a week (gross) in an 8-week ‘relevant period’

Use the SMP calculator to check an employee’s eligibility and work out their relevant period, notice period and maternity pay.

There are special rules for some employee situations (for example if they leave, become sick or their baby is born before the qualifying week).

Proof of pregnancy

You must get proof of the pregnancy before you pay SMP. This is usually a doctor’s letter or a maternity certificate (known as an MATB1 certificate). Midwives and doctors usually issue these 20 weeks before the due date.

The employee should give you proof within 21 days of the SMP start date. You can agree to accept it later if you want. You don’t have to pay SMP if you haven’t received proof of the due date 13 weeks after the SMP start date.

You must keep records of the proof of pregnancy.

Employees not entitled to SMP may be able to get Maternity Allowance instead.