A woman who has worked and paid full National Insurance (NI) contributions in the relevant test period can get Maternity Allowance (MA). It is paid for 39 weeks, at the earliest starting 11 weeks before the baby is due. If the woman does any paid work during this period, she cannot get the allowance for that time.
From 6 April 1987 most women who work for an employer and who have average earnings at or above the lower earnings limit (LEL) are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay which employers are liable to pay.
Because of changes introduced under the EC Directive on the protection of pregnant women at work, employed women expecting babies on or after 16 October 1994 get higher rate MA. Women who are not employees in the 15th week before the baby is due get the lower rate of MA.
Changes to MA were introduced for women expecting babies on or after 20 August 2000. The employment and NI contribution tests were replaced with an employment test and test of average weekly earnings within the test period. The change extended MA to women earning too little to pay NI contributions provided their earnings were at least £30 a week.
Standard rate MA is paid to women whose average earnings at least equal the LEL and the self-employed who have paid a Class 2 contribution. Women earning less than this but at least £30 get MA worth 90% of that average (maximum payment standard rate).
Table MA1: MA spells by Government Office Region
Table MA2: MA spells by age and number of days in payment
Table MA3: MA spells terminating by age and duration
Table MA4: MA spells terminating by weekly amount in payment and duration
Table MA5: MA spells by age and dependency
Table MA6: MA spells by status and Government Office Region
Table MA7: MA spells commencing in the period by employment status and rate reason
Table MA8: MA spells commencing in the period by employment status and number of jobs held