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Maternity, paternity and adoption


Statutory maternity pay

Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is payable at two different rates:

  • For the first six weeks, at the earnings-related rate, which is 90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings.

  • For the remaining 33 weeks, at either the prescribed rate (see the table below) or the earnings-related rate, whichever is lower. The prescribed rate is set out in regulation 6 of the Statutory Maternity Pay (General) Regulations 1986 (SI 1986/1960) and is revised annually. The rate from 1 April 2019 was prescribed by the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2019 (SI 2019/480).


(Section 166, Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992.)

The prescribed rate is raised every April in line with any annual increase in CPI measured in the previous September. If there is no change or a decrease in CPI, the prescribed rate remains the same.

Statutory paternity pay

Statutory paternity pay (SPP) is payable for up to two weeks at the prescribed rate (see table below), or at the earnings-related rate (90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings), whichever is lower (section 171ZE, Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992). The prescribed rate of SPP is contained in regulation 2 of the Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (Weekly Rates) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2818) and is revised annually. The rate from 1 April 2019 was prescribed by the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2019 (SI 2019/480).

The prescribed rate is raised every April in line with any annual increase in CPI measured in the previous September. If there is no change or a decrease in CPI, the prescribed rate remains the same.

Statutory adoption pay

From 5 April 2015, as a result of section 124 of the Children and Families Act 2014, statutory adoption pay (SAP) is payable at two different rates:

  • For the first six weeks, at the earnings-related rate. This is 90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings.

  • For the remaining 33 weeks, at either the prescribed rate (see the table below) or the earnings-related rate, whichever is lower. The rate from 1 April 2019 was prescribed by the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2019 (SI 2019/480).


The prescribed rate of SAP is contained in regulation 3 of the Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (Weekly Rates) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2818) and is revised annually. It is raised every April in line with any annual increase in CPI measured in the previous September. If there is no change or a decrease in CPI, the prescribed rate remains the same.

Before 5 April 2015, SAP was payable for up to 39 weeks at the prescribed rate , or at the earnings-related rate (90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings), whichever was lower (section 171ZN, Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992). For the rates that applied before 6 April 2014, see Checklist, Historical rates and limits for employment lawyers: Statutory adoption pay.

Maternity allowance

Maternity allowance is payable for up to 39 weeks to women who are not entitled to SMP because they are either low-paid or self-employed. The individual is entitled to the lower of the prescribed rate of maternity allowance (see table below) or 90% of their normal weekly earnings. The prescribed weekly rate of maternity allowance is contained in section 35A of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 and is revised annually. The rate from 1 April 2019 was prescribed by the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2019 (SI 2019/480).

The prescribed rate is raised every April in line with any annual increase in CPI measured in the previous September. If there is no change, or a decrease in CPI, MA remains the same.

Shared parental pay

The number of weeks of Shared parental pay (ShPP) available to be shared between parents is 39 weeks less any weeks spent by the child's mother or adopter in receipt of SMP, MA or SAP (regulation 10(1) and 17(1), ShPP Regulations). The weekly rate of ShPP is the lower of the prescribed rate (see table below) and 90% of the normal weekly earnings of the person claiming ShPP. The prescribed rate of ShPP is contained in Regulation 40 of the ShPP Regulations, and is revised annually. The rate from 1 April 2019 was prescribed by the Social Security Benefits Uprating Order 2019 (SI 2019/480).

The prescribed rate is raised every April in line with any annual increase in CPI measured in the previous September. If there is no change or a decrease in CPI, the prescribed rate remains the same.

The shared parental leave scheme applies if the EWC begins on or after 5 April 2015, or if a child is placed for adoption on or after that date. It is possible that babies with an EWC that begins on or after 5 April 2015 are born prematurely, and that therefore the prescribed rate for any ShPP taken before the 5 April 2015 would be £138.18 per week.

Small employers' relief

Employers with Class 1 NIC liability below a specified threshold for the tax year qualify for small employers' relief. They are entitled to recover 100% of their SMP, SPP and SAP, plus an additional compensatory amount, which relates to NICs payable on that SMP, SPP or SAP (see Statutory Maternity Pay (Compensation of Employers) and Miscellaneous Amendment Regulations 1994 (SI 1994/1882) and Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (Administration) Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2820)).