You must meet the following three conditions in order to get SMP:
- You must have worked for at least 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week (i.e. by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due).
- You must still be in your job in the qualifying week (although it does not matter if you are off sick or on holiday during that week).
- You must have been paid at least the Lower Earning Limit on average in the eight weeks (if you are paid weekly) or the two months (if you are paid monthly) up to the last payday before the end of the qualifying week. For mothers of babies born on or after April 2019, this is £118 per week.
To receive SMP you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the date that you want the pay to start on and you cannot change your mind about this date.
Your SMP can start on any day of the week that you choose and in most cases will start on the same day as your maternity leave period starts.
To claim your SMP, you must give your employer a copy of your MAT B1 form. This is the maternity certificate which states your expected week of childbirth, given to you by your midwife or GP when you are about 20 weeks pregnant. You may find it easier to give your notice for your leave and pay together in the 15th week before the baby is due. However, if you decide to do this you must remember that you cannot change the date that your pay starts on, even if you decide to change the date that your leave begins on.
If your employer decides that you are not entitled to SMP, they must give you Form SMP1 (PDF) within seven days and explain why.
If you don’t qualify for SMP you may be eligible for Maternity Allowance.