Maternity Allowance for the Self-Employed Explained

Maternity allowance is a statutory benefit paid to mums to be who are not entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay.

When someone is employed, they are usually entitled to statutory maternity pay and leave. Their employer will organise this for them and include it on their payslip before paying it to them on behalf of the government.

But when you are self-employed, it is down to you to organise your finances and time off.

To help, the government have introduced maternity allowance for those who are expecting a baby and are:

  • Self-employed;
  • Playing a part in the self-employed business of their spouse or civil partner;
  • Agency workers without employment rights.

The full rate is paid for 39 weeks at the lower of:

  • £148.68 per week or;
  • 90% of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax)

Payments start 11 weeks before your baby’s due date, but you can’t claim until your 26th week of pregnancy.

Your allowance is paid every 2 weeks or every 4 weeks in arrears and can be transferred directly into your bank account if you provide your bank details on your application form.

There is a reduced rate of maternity allowance which is £27 a week for 39 weeks or 14 weeks.

The reduced amount is often paid when:

Do You Qualify for Self-Employed Maternity Pay?

To qualify, you’ll need to have:

  • Been registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due to arrive;
  • Average weekly earnings of at least £30 a week for 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date;
  • Be planning to stop work to have your baby;
  • Paid 13 weeks of Class 2 National Insurance contributions.

If you have not paid enough Class 2 National Insurance Contributions or registered as self-employed for less than 26 weeks for self-employment then you may only be eligible for a reduced rate of £27 for 39 weeks.

Check how much you are entitled to with the HMRC Maternity Pay Calculator

Maternity Allowance When You’re Involved in Your Spouses Self-Employed Business

If your partner is self-employed and you help in their business, then you may be eligible for the reduced rate of maternity allowance of £27 a week for 14 weeks.

There is a 26 week test period to check your eligibility. During this time frame you must demonstrate you are involved in the business as well as being:

  • Married or in a civil partnership with the self-employed person;
  • Not been employed by your partner or spouse (in which case you’ll be entitled to statutory maternity pay);
  • Your partner must be working as a self-employed earner in the business;
  • Your partner is registered as self-employed and pays Class 2 national insurance contributions.

You must not be employed by your partner and entitled to statutory maternity pay.

How to Claim Self-Employed Maternity Allowance

You can claim your allowance at the start of the fourteenth week before the week your baby is due, even if you are still working.

You’ll need to apply using a MA1 Form.

What is a Ma1 Form?

An MA1 form can be completed online or on a printed version. Whichever you choose, it will need to be printed and posted to HMRC to the address below.

The form tells HMRC a bit about you and when your baby is due so that they can work out if you are eligible for maternity allowance.

You’ll also need to include personal information like:

  • National Insurance Number;
  • Baby’s due date;
  • Other benefits you may be receiving like housing benefit or child benefit;
  • The date you registered as self-employed with HMRC;
  • What time you are planning to take-off;
  • Information about your spouse and their business, if you’re claiming the reduced amount.

Or if you help in your partners self-employed business, you’ll need to provide details about when you worked there and what you do in the business, along with their personal details.

Download Your MA1 form

You’ll need to send additional evidence with your form to support your application including:

  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Proof of your baby’s due date (MATB1 Certificate)
  • Birth certificate, if you are claiming after your baby was born

You’ll get a decision on your application within 24 days of receiving your MA1 form. If it is approved, you’ll start to receive payments on the Sunday of the 11th ween before your baby is due.

Is there a time limit to make your claim?

You must make your claim within 3 months of the start date of your maternity allowance period or 14-week period is due to start.

If you claim too late, you’ll lose money.

When Do Your Payments Start?

Whether you or your partner are self-employed, you can generally choose when you want your maternity allowance payments to begin.

The latest it can start is the day after your baby is born or you stop taking part in your partners business.

Being self-employed is a responsibility, so it’s helpful to know you can work up to 10 days during your maternity allowance period with losing any of your allowance.  

These are known as “keeping in touch days”.

Keeping in touch days doesn’t apply if you help in your partners business. If you continue to help your partner, you risk losing allowance payments for each week you work during the 14 week period.

That means if you choose to work closer to your due date you can choose to start your payments when you stop working so you get more time off once baby has arrived.

Where to Get More Help

The rules can be quite complicated and everyone’s situation is different. 

The best start to with help making your claim is to contact HMRC on:

Wrexham Maternity Allowance
Mail Handling Site A
WV98 1SU
Telephone – 0800 169 0283

Read More: Child Benefit 2019/2020


Is Maternity Allowance Taxable?

No, it is not a taxable benefit and does not need to be included on your self-assessment tax return.

Does Maternity Allowance Affect Other State Benefits?

It may have some impact on other benefits that you may be claimed due to the benefits cap including:

  • Council Tax Reduction;
  • Housing Benefit;
  • Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Income Support;
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (which will stop if you get Maternity Allowance);
  • Bereavement benefits;
  • Carer’s Allowance;
  • Universal Credit.

Can Maternity Allowance Be Backdated?

If you are late submitting your application, your payments can be backdated up to 3 months. Any more than 3 months and you’ll lose the money you are entitled to.

Can I get Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance?

No, you cannot claim both. If you are eligible for SMP, then you must claim this. You can claim maternity allowance if your employer refuses to pay you SMP.

Can You Claim Maternity Allowance if You Haven’t Registered as Self-Employed?

Maternity allowance requires you to have paid class 2 national insurance.  If you haven’t paid into the system you can’t take anything out.

If you have been working for yourself then you should get registered sooner rather than later to protect your claim. 

Many people choose to register and pay voluntary class 2 national insurance to protect their access to state benefits.

About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek, money nerd and creator of - the UK small business finance blog for the self-employed community. Here she shares simple, straight-forward guides to make self-employment topics like taxes, bookkeeping and banking easy to understand.