Umbrella guide to maternity rights

Brookson, a specialist provider of accountancy advice and support services to contractors, freelancers and self-employed professionals, guides umbrella contractors through their maternity rights.

Working through an umbrella company has many benefits, one of which is that you can claim statutory maternity pay. Below we explore the practicalities of claiming maternity pay from an umbrella provider in more detail.

How much can I claim?

The rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 2013/14 is the lower of 90% of your Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) for the first six weeks then the standard rate of £136.78 or 90% of your AWE for the following 33 weeks. Total payments are for a maximum of 39 weeks but you can take up to 52 weeks in leave.

How do I qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay?

To qualify for SMP you must have been employed continuously by your umbrella provider for at least 26 weeks before the 15th week before the baby is due. Your minimum level of earnings, referred to as the Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) must have been equal to or above £109 a week for 2013-14 or £107 a week for 2012-13. This is referred to as the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) for National Insurance Contributions to enable you to receive SMP.

You also need to supply your umbrella provider with the MAT B1 certificate no less than 28 days before you would like your maternity payments to start, this will ensure payments are not delayed.  

If you cannot supply the MAT B1 certificate, you must provide other evidence of your pregnancy within the same timescale. 

I have only just changed umbrella provider, what am I entitled to?

If you haven’t been with your umbrella provider for at least 26 weeks when you are at week 15 of your pregnancy, you will not be eligible to SMP. However, your umbrella provider will supply you with a form SMP1 which will help you claim Maternity Allowance (MA). You should take this form to the Job Centre Plus or local Social Security Office who will be able to assess whether you are entitled to MA.

If you don’t qualify for SMP or MA, all is not lost. You may still qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead. If you have already made a claim for MA, you don’t need to complete a new form as the Job Centre Plus or Social Security Office will automatically check your eligibility for ESA.

Further information about Maternity Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance here.

When does SMP start?

If you satisfy the qualifying criteria for SMP then it can start being paid anytime after the 11th week of the pregnancy.

Written notice (usually an e-mail will suffice) should be sent to your umbrella provider, 28 days before you want the payment to commence.  Your umbrella provider will then be able to confirm the payment dates along with the amount of payment you are entitled to receive during your maternity leave.

You should also try and give 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to return to work so that your umbrella provider can advise you of any changes to the way they work and ensure your return will be as smooth as possible. 

Keeping in touch days

You are entitled to work up to 10 days during your maternity pay period without losing your maternity pay entitlement.  When working these KIT days, you don’t have to work a full day; it can be for a small number of hours but this still counts as 1 of your 10 KIT days.  These days are designed so that you can undertake training or do some occasional work if required to assist your return to work.  These days can be worked consecutively, singly or in blocks but if they exceed 10 days then SMP cannot be paid for the extra days worked.

Time off for ante-natal care

With the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 taking effect on 1 October 2011, umbrella employees are now entitled to receive paid time off to attend ante-natal sessions.

If you think you are missing out on your maternity rights or have any queries in relation to pay, you should speak with your umbrella provider in the first instance who will be able to deal with any questions you may have.

 

 

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Wednesday 25th September 2013