My employer says I'm not eligible for maternity pay as I'm a worker rather than an employee. Is this right?

You do not always need to be an employee with a contract of employment to get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). Agency workers also qualify for SMP, as long as they meet the minimum requirements as to earnings and length of continuous service. The genuinely self-employed do not qualify. For more information see our section on Agency Workers’ rights.

As an employee or worker, you are entitled to a health and safety risk assessment once you have notified your employer of your pregnancy and/or that you intend to breastfeed your baby, if your work could involve a risk of harm to you or your baby.

All employees and workers are entitled to protection from being treated negatively by their employer in any way because of their pregnancy. This is pregnancy discrimination and it is banned by the Equality Act 2010.

If you don't qualify for SMP, you may qualify for Maternity Allowance, which is paid by the Government rather than through your employer. Follow the instructions to claim Maternity Allowance, using an MA1 claim form. Maternity Allowance, like Statutory Maternity Pay, is paid for the first 39 weeks of the maternity leave period.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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