As I have mentioned before, I left my permanent full-time job as a senior leader teacher last September to be a supply teacher. The change in my well-being has been huge and I have no regrets about taking the leap and resigning. However, obviously it has meant a big change in my income (particularly as I’ve chosen to only work three days per week due to my pregnancy) and because I had a break of around six weeks between my permanent contract ending and my contract with the supply team starting, it means I’m not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from my employer.
In order to be entitled to SMP, you need to have worked for your employer, without a break, for 26 weeks before the 15th week prior to your expected due date, and earn at least £112 per week. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to me so I’m not entitled to SMP. I wasn’t really surprised that this was the case; we thought we’d just have to manage without. But then someone mentioned to me that I might be entitled to Maternity Allowance.
Maternity takes account of 66 whole weeks before your due date (that’s nearly six whole months before I even fell pregnant!). You need to have earned more than £30 per week over a period of 13 weeks in order to be entitled. The 13 weeks don’t have to be consecutive and you will be paid either 90% of those earnings per week or £139 per week for 39 weeks, whichever is less. You just have to provide evidence of those earnings (i.e. payslips).
If you’re employed in the 15th week before your baby is due, you also have to provide form SMP1 which explains why they cannot or will not pay Statutory Maternity Pay. You can get this from your employer. The Maternity Allowance claim form can be found online or you can get one from your local Job Centre.
Obviously I am not a financial advisor, nor am I a benefits expert. I have seen a company on Twitter offering ‘professional’ Maternity Allowance help online, but they charge £49 to fill in the form! While I must admit it was a little confusing at first, the Maternity Allowance claim from comes with a notes booklet which makes it all a lot more straightforward, and I was more than capable of filling it in by myself.
However, if you want to know want help completing the form or more information about what you might be entitled to then I suggest that you contact your local Job Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau, where you can get access to free help and advice.
Disclaimer: As I’ve said, I’m not a benefits expert and this is not legal advice. I just wanted to share what I’ve learnt as most people, like me, seem to be unaware that Maternity Allowance is available as an option.