Question: I’m a self-employed woman and I’m thinking about starting a family. Am I able to take paid maternity leave?
Answer: Maternity entitlements are different for self-employed women but financial support is still available.
Self-employed women who have a baby may be entitled to a total of 39 weeks Maternity Allowance. The maximum weekly rate you can receive is £139.58 but it does depend what your individual circumstances are.
In order to get the full amount you need to have worked (either employed or self-employed) for at least 26 out of the 66 weeks prior to your baby’s arrival. You should also have paid National Insurance contributions for at least 13 of those weeks and are required to have earned an average of £30 per week over 13 of the 66 weeks. However, if you don’t meet all of these criteria it’s possible that you’ll still be able to receive some support.
You can put in a claim once your pregnancy reaches 26 weeks by filling in a MA1 claim form online or popping it in the post.
The earliest you can receive the first payment is 11 weeks before your baby is due, or you can elect to start it as late as the day after the birth.
Employees often have ‘keeping in touch’ days and the same stands for self-employed workers. You can work for up to 10 days whilst receiving Maternity Allowance, but go over this threshold and you risk losing your allowance altogether.
If your household income isn’t enough to cover your costs you might also be entitled to further financial aid such as the Sure Start Maternity Grant or income-related social security benefits.