Statutory Maternity, Paternity & Adoption Pay

All employers, regardless of size, must pay employees when they are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave from work, if they meet the criteria


  • Many employers may offer contractual maternity, paternity and adoption pay, but there may be repayment rules where an employee fails to return to work. Repayment of Enhanced Maternity Pay on Non-return to Work.
  • The standard rate is £135.45 for 2012/13 from 1 April 2012 (£128.73 for 2011/12). Rates of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP).
  • All employers can recover the statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay paid to employees. Large employers can recover 92% of the amounts paid, and small employers 100% plus a small amount of compensation (3% for 2011/12 and 2012/13).
  • Age discrimination legislation — the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 removed the lower age limit on payments of SMP, SPP and SAP.
  • “Keeping-in-touch days” allow employees to work for not more than 10 days while in receipt of SMP or SAP, without loss of entitlement.
  • Penalties may be charged for a failure to administer SMP, SPP or SAP properly, for example for not paying amounts due, obtaining funding fraudulently or for a failure to keep proper records or make correct returns.



  • Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) is paid at two rates – higher and lower. The higher rate paid for the first six weeks is 90% of average weekly earnings. The lower rate paid for a maximum of 33 weeks is the standard rate or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if lower.
  • Where a woman has two jobs she may be able to receive SMP from both employers.
  • Casual workers may be entitled to SMP if they fulfil certain requirements. SMP and Casual Workers.
  • An employee is entitled to maternity leave of up to 52 weeks, regardless of whether she qualifies for SMP.


  • Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP) is payable for the two-week ordinary statutory paternity leave period at the standard rate or 90% of average weekly earnings if lower than the standard rate.
  • Additional Paternity Leave is available in respect of babies due or children matched for adoption on or after 3 April 2011.
  • Additional Paternity Leave can be taken for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum of 26 weeks starting at least 20 weeks after the birth/placement of the child and ending before the child’s first birthday or the first anniversary of the placement.
  • Additional Paternity Pay may be paid during ASPL for the time that the employee’s partner would have received statutory maternity pay or allowance or statutory adoption pay.
  • Additional Paternity Pay is payable at the same rate as Statutory Paternity Pay.


  • Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is payable for up to 39 weeks at the standard rate or 90% of average weekly earnings if lower than the standard rate.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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