Maternity Allowance for Freelancers

4 months ago

Finding out what financial support is available to you as a Freelancer can be really difficult, especially if you have a baby on the way, as it’s more than likely that you’ll have a million and one other important things to sort out at the top of your to-do list. 

That’s why we’ve decided to create a full guide detailing what types of financial support are available to freelancers during their maternity period. In this article we discuss the different eligibility criteria for the various options available to freelancers during their maternity period as well as explaining how you can apply for financial support during this time. 

What kinds of maternity pay are available for freelancers?

Unfortunately there aren’t as many options available to freelancers or other self-employed workers in the UK as there are for those in other types of employment. The table below shows the various types of financial support available to freelancers during their pregnancy and shortly after childbirth. 

Financial Support Are Freelancers Eligible? 
Statutory Maternity Pay No 
Maternity Allowance Depends on your circumstances 
Shared Parental Leave and Pay No
Paternity Pay No 
Employment and Support AllowanceDepends on your circumstances 

As you can see from the table, freelancers are not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, Shared Parental Pay or Paternity Pay. They do however qualify for Maternity Allowance, although this depends on their individual circumstances. For those who do not qualify for Maternity Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance may be another option. 

How do I know if I am eligible for Maternity Allowance? 

In the following section, we explain the eligibility criteria for Maternity Allowance for Freelancers in the UK. 

39 Week Maternity Allowance 

To qualify for the full Maternity Allowance rate for 39 weeks, you must have met the following criteria: 

  1. Worked on a self-employed basis for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before your baby is due
  2. You earn a minimum of £30 a week on average over 13 non-consecutive weeks
  3. You have paid Class 2 National Insurance for 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due

If you have not paid enough National Insurance over this time period, you will only be eligible for Maternity Allowance at the reduced rate of £27 a week. However, you may still be able to get the full rate if you make early National Insurance payments. To do this, contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and they will explain what steps you need to take.

14 Week Maternity Allowance  

Another financial support option available to freelancers is Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks. You may be eligible for this option if for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks prior to your baby’s due date: 

  • You are married or in a civil partnership
  • You’re neither employed nor self-employed
  • You participate in your self-employed spouse or civil partner’s business 
  • The work you carry out is for the business and unpaid
  • Your spouse or civil partner is registered as self-employed with HMRC and should pay Class 2 National Insurance
  • Your spouse or civil partner is working as a self-employed person
  • You do not meet the eligibility criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance (for the same pregnancy)

If you lose your baby 

The information provided on the government website says that you may be able to qualify for Maternity Allowance if your baby is either stillborn from the beginning of the 24th week of pregnancy or born alive at any point during the pregnancy.  

How do you apply for Maternity Allowance? 

You can claim for Maternity Allowance once you have been pregnant for 26 weeks, with payments starting anytime from 11 weeks before your baby’s due date.  

To apply, we recommend first checking to see what kind of support you’re eligible for using the Maternity Entitlement Calculator on the government website. Then you will need to fill out and send off a Maternity Allowance Claim Form alongside the following documents:

  • Proof income (such as original payslips)
  • Proof of your baby’s due date (such as a doctor or midwife letter)
  • Your SMP1 form if your employer has refused Statutory Maternity Pay

More information may also be requested if you’re applying for Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks. This may include details of your partner’s self-employed business and information about the ways in which you participate in their business.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) 

If you’re do not qualify for Maternity Allowance, you might be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead. If you apply for Maternity Allowance and do not qualify, you will be automatically considered for ESA. 

The minimum amount of ESA is £57.90 a week, which can be paid for six weeks before your due date and for two weeks after your baby is born.

We hope this guide has been useful in helping you to understand which types of financial support are available for you as a freelancer during your pregnancy and shortly after giving birth to your child. 

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