It seems like the ‘big stuff’ in life is reserved for those in full-time employment. Try getting a mortgage if your self-employed or even a loan to buy a car. There are blockades every step of the way. Starting a family is no different. You’re self-employed and planning on having a baby, it’s a serious balancing act that requires some careful thought and preparation. Here’s the 411 on being self-employed and pregnant.
Having a child can place a strain over anyone’s career, but when you are a freelancer (self-employed) it can feel even harder to figure out what maternity benefits you are entitled to and when to go back to work if at all. You may be surprised to read that there are some benefits that you can claim.
When you fall pregnant (congrats by the way), it’s time to start preparing for your life after your child is born. Being self-employed, you won’t be eligible for statutory maternity pay, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Self-employed mum’s to-be are able to apply for maternity allowance.
The full allowance available for 2018/2019 is £145.18 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings — whichever is lower (sad face emoji). It’s a pretty measly sum but every little helps.
So, now you know how much you are potentially entitled to, here’s how you can get your hands on it, but bear with us as it’s a little confusing.
You must be working for at least 26 of the 66 weeks leading up to your due date, earning on average at least £30 per week. This is known as the ‘test period.’ During this period, you must have paid class two national insurance contributions for at least 13 weeks of the test period, and be registered as self-employed with HMRC. Essentially, if you’ve been a freelancer for a while and paid tax, you’re entitled. If you’ve just started freelancing and fallen pregnant, you may want to take out the calculator to see if you’re able to claim.
Once you’ve wrapped your head around that and are 26 weeks pregnant, you can fill in an MA1 claim form here. There is an interactive version here. We’ve checked it out, the form isn’t too complicated. Have your National Insurance number to hand and a few details about your business status (self-employed, employed etc…) but there’s nothing too taxing.
When sending the completed form, you will also need to provide a maternity certificate, proof of your income, such as payslips and proof of the baby’s due date such as a letter from the doctor or midwife. If one of the businesses that you work for provides statutory maternity pay, you will need to provide your SMP1 form, though this may affect how much you are able to claim, if anything at all.
Now to the best part, when you receive your maternity allowance. Payments will start on the Sunday 11 weeks before your baby is due if you have already stopped working. For those still working, it’s up to you when you want your maternity allowance to begin as long as it is no later than the day after you give birth.
Also, during your maternity leave, you will have the option of working up to 10 days. These days are referred to as ‘keeping in touch days’. You don’t have to provide any proof of your earnings during this period, but if you work over 10 days you must cancel your maternity allowance.
Things to Consider
- Maternity allowance is tax-free.
- Only one partner can receive maternity allowance or parental pay (for an employed father) at one time.
- If you are self-employed with a limited company you may be entitled to statutory maternity pay instead. Find out what you’re entitled to here.
- Make sure you keep track of your working hours during maternity leave.
- Keeping in touch days counts as any amount of work completed in a day as a day’s work.
- You’ll have the opportunity to get up-to-date with your national insurance contributions during your application if you hadn’t been able to do so before applying.