Freelancer’s Question: I understand that I won’t get maternity pay if I’m pregnant while being a freelancer operating as a sole trader, but will I get maternity allowance?
Expert’s Answer: If you’re self-employed you won’t be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay. You may however be entitled to Maternity Allowance (MA), provided you were employed (or self-employed) for at least 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the birth, and earned more than £30 a week.
So if you are registered as self-employed, and have paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions, and do not hold a Small Earnings Exception certificate, you will be treated as having enough weekly earnings to result in the standard rate of MA for any week covered by that Class 2 National Insurance contribution.
MA is £138.18 for up to 39 weeks, or 90% of your average weekly earnings if less. You will then be entitled to £27 a week for up to 14 weeks (if the due date is after 27/07/2014). The allowance is paid direct by the government every two weeks or every 4 weeks in arrears.
However if you hold a Small Earnings Exception certificate, you will be treated as having earnings of £30 at the end of each week covered by the certificate. This applies even if you have paid a Class 2 National Insurance contribution for a week covered by the certificate.
In addition, bear in mind that if you have been registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks in your test period, you may not qualify for MA unless you have paid Class 2 National Insurance contributions in your test period, or you have held a Small Earnings Exception certificate.
Lastly, be aware that there is a separate allowance if you take part in activities related to the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner. Details of this allowance are available in this PDF from the Department for Work and Pensions.
expert’s answer is based on comments and guidance from Clare Rickman, a director
at In–Touch Accounting.