Get to grips with maternity and paternity pay

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Whether you are expecting a baby, or planning when to start your family – it’s fair to say that your finances are going to be impacted and things will never be the same again!

There are so many things you find out when you announce your ‘big news’, and there are some that no-one tells you – why would they, you don’t need to know until you're about to join the 'parent club'.

How much will I get paid during maternity leave?

One of the main decisions you need to make is around taking time off work for maternity leave. For many people, the decision is largely influenced by the maternity pay and policy in place with their employer. You are entitled to 52 weeks Statutory Maternity Leave - this is different to your pay entitlement. It is really important that you check this out so that you are clear what will happen to your income and at what stages that income will reduce.

Different employers have different policies, so it's worth checking your contract to see what you're entitled to. Most employers will pay you a percentage of your salary for a period of weeks, then this may reduce, and at some point it's likely you will move onto Statutory Maternity Pay which will be lower.

At a minmum, Statutory Maternity Pay is paid up to 39 weeks if you qualify. Work out how much you get paid a week before tax, and you'll recieve 90% of this amount for the first six weeks of your leave. The next 33 weeks you'll either continue to recieve this amount, or you'll recieve £151.20 - whichever amount is lower.

Am I eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay?

  • You need to have worked for 26 weeks before the qualifying week of your pregnancy (the 15th week before your baby is due).

  • You must earn at least £120 a week.

  • You must abide by the pregnancy notice periods as set by your employer.

How much is paternity leave pay?

Again, this is usually subject to your employer's policy, and fathers are usually expected to meet the same eligibility rules as mothers for Statutory Paternity Pay.

Statutory paternity pay is 90% of your weekly earning before tax, or £151.20 - whichever is lower. You'll be paid this about for one or two weeks.

What's Shared Paternal Leave and Shared Paternal Pay?

Shared Parternal Leave allows mothers to end their Maternity Leave early so that fathers can take over the care of a new born, whilst receiving Shared Paternal Pay (ShPP) for the remainder of the Maternity Leave. You should check your employers policy for this.

You can get full details on eligibility and how to claim on the Gov.uk website.

Additional leave

You can also apply for additional unpaid leave for up to 18 weeks in order to care for your child (this can be any child under the age of 18). Again, there are certain eligibility criteria to qualify, you can find this here.

How to manage the change in your income

If you take the standard Maternity or Paternity Pay then there's a good chance that you may be left with a dent in your income during this time.

Go through your bank statements to understand exactly how much money is coming in and going out and where you can cut back to make savings. It's worth setting up a regular direct payment to a savings account that covers the difference between your usual salary and what you'll be recieving during your leave.

The best way to make sure you're covered is by being prepared for the cost of a new-born. If you're not sure what to expect, then make sure you give you read 'How to Financially Prepare for a New Arrival (and still be excited)'.

What next?

Baby cost calculator

The Money Advice Service have a great baby costs calculator so why not have a look for yourself


Our articles cover a wide range of mainstream financial products and employee benefits. Terms and conditions of each product may vary depending on your provider. Please ensure you check the specific terms and conditions of any financial products and employee benefits available to you from your employer.