Whatever your working situation is it important to make sure that you get the financial help you are entitled to when you are having a child. The help available will depend on your working status, as will the amount that you will be able to claim.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is available to most full-time employees. To qualify, you need to have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks into the 15th week before the due date of the baby. You also need to earn an average of at least £107 a week. Whilst this may sound complicated, there are a number of online calculators available that can work out whether you qualify.
The amount of SMP that you will receive is ninety per cent of your average gross salary for the first six weeks and then the lower of £135.45 or 90% of your weekly earnings for the following 33 weeks. You need to give 28 days notice of when you would like your SMP to start.
Part-time employees are treated in exactly the same way as full-time ones. If you meet the qualifying week requirements and earn at least an average of £107 a week then you should qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay.
Self-Employed or Changed Employers
If you are registered as self-employed or have changed employers whilst pregnant then you cannot claim SMP. You may, however, be able to claim Maternity Allowance. To qualify you need to have worked at least 26 out of the 66 weeks before your due date, known at the test period, or to have earned at least £30 a week on average during any 13 weeks of this test period.
The amount of Maternity Allowance that you will receive is the lower of £135.45 per week or ninety per cent of average weekly earnings. It can be paid up to a maximum of 39 weeks. If you qualify for Maternity Allowance then you may also be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance for 11 weeks before the due date to 15 weeks after the baby is born.
If you cannot get SMP or Maternity Allowance and you are unemployed then you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you have paid national insurance contributions. The amount that you will receive depends upon your circumstances and is subject to assessment. It can be paid for six weeks before the birth and for up to 14 days after the child is born.
Once the Baby Is Born
Anyone bringing up a child can claim Child Benefit of £20.30 a week for their first or eldest child and £13.40 a week for any additional children. You can only backdate claims by three months so it is important to complete the claim form as soon as possible. Depending on your circumstances, you may also be able to claim Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits.
You may find that having a dependant means that you want to make financial provisions. You could invest in a Junior ISA so that they have a nest egg and you may want to arrange life assurance and research products via a site such as SO Switch.
Having a baby will have an impact on your financial situation whatever your circumstances. Finding out about what help is available is, therefore, important to help you plan for the future.