Maternity allowance in the UK when self-employed
Thread poster: Florence Stubbs

Florence Stubbs
France
Local time: 23:25
English to French
Jan 31, 2007

Hi everyone,
I've been looking at maternity allowance you can get in the UK when you're self employed. I found that you can get a maximum of 106 £ a week for 39 weeks. Well, it's about 424£ a month. That's not a lot is it (well in my case that's 25% of my monthly salary, roughly!). I just wanted to check with other mums/mums to be if I had my figures right, and if so how they manage to cope with such a difference in their salary with a new baby plus still the same commitments (mortgage etc...).
thanks


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Yelena.  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
English to Russian
+ ...
Me too Jan 31, 2007

I am expecting too so would be interested in any info on this please!

I must say that it's rather unfair on us, self-employed, who pay just as much tax and NI contributions as everyone else and get such a minimum compared to those women working for an employer.

[Edited at 2007-01-31 18:58]


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Italian to English
I'm in the same situation Jan 31, 2007

I've been looking into this too as I'm a couple of months pregnant. It seems you are right. It's really not a lot of money considering how much tax and NI I pay, but I suppose it's better than nothing. My other half is going to have to pay the mortgage on his own for a while
I've also read that you can only claim this money during the weeks you are not working at all, so you're not supposed to top it up by working part-time.


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Sean Linney  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
French to English
+ ...
How about paternity allowance? Jan 31, 2007

My wife is expecting this summer and I've been wondering whether self-employed men are entitled to any sort of paternity allowance, however small. After searching the Internet, I found the following answer to a question asked on a BBC discussion programme:

"Yes, the main benefit available is maternity allowance for your partner [i.e. the mother]. That’s paid at basically £100 a week for 26 weeks. It may be possible for you to get other benefits in addition to that – you’ve probably heard a lot of publicity about the new tax credits – child tax credit and working tax credit and so you may well qualify for those depending on your earnings."

It seems that women should get around £100 a week, as Florence says, while men get nothing. Oh well.


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
French to English
+ ...
Better than nothing I suppose... Jan 31, 2007

I think it was about £40 a week when I had my second son 15 years ago, so at least it's gone up a little since then! You should also get child benefit of about £18 a week from the birth too and when you do start to work again you may be able to claim working tax credit and child tax credit, including a childcare element, if your household income is less than a certain amount, providing you work at least 16 hours a week - check out the tax credit websites as it's quite complicated but worth investigating.

It's certainly better than nothing and it gives you the chance to spend time with your baby as discussed in another topic this week.

All the best!


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Katie01  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
My experience! Feb 1, 2007

Hi, when I was pregnant with my daughter, around 4 years ago, I had several conversations with various social security departments. The bottom line is that unless you are prepared to stop working completely, you will not receive anything. As a freelancer with a few direct clients, I decided that I could not afford to stop working completely. There was always a risk that the direct clients would turn to someone else in my absence. So I told some of the agencies I worked for that I could not take on any large projects, and concentrated on keeping my direct clients. Although it has not always been easy, I am lucky to have a husband who has always done more than his fair share, and with a bit of childcare when I needed it, we have managed. My daughter has just started school, so at last I can do most of my work in the daytime! And I feel very lucky to have had all that time with my daughter too.

Good luck to you all!

Kathryn


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Rahmat Rahmat, Ph.D.
English to Indonesian
+ ...
UK passport holder in USA Feb 1, 2007

Hi,

My wife is expecting too, she was born in Hong Kong, China and has British passport. She doesn't work and still in Ph.D. Accounting program in USA. Can she get Maternity allowance from UK or USA(The Fed or MediCare or Social Security) or Hong Kong or China or Indonesian?

Rahmat


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Florence Stubbs
France
Local time: 23:25
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
some more info Feb 1, 2007

Thanks for your replies guys.
Well it seems that we're all in about the same situation then. Good job we have supportive husbands.
I've looked into it a bit further yesterday, and it seems that from 1st April 2007, (ie if you give birth after 1st April 2007) you can work 10 hours per week and still get the Maternity Allowance minus these 10 hours. This is for self-employed people specifically and they call it the "keep-in-touch" time or something of this kind. Which means that we would still be able to do the odd jobs here and there. I've lost the internet link though, so i'll look at it again and I will post it here for you to have a look at.
Katie, you've raised a good point with keeping work for direct clients. I had thought about that too because it's so hard to get to work for direct clients that I don't really want to loose them.
cheers.


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Florence Stubbs
France
Local time: 23:25
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
you are so right Sean! Feb 1, 2007

My husband and I were also discussing the idea of a patternity allowance or leave.
I explain : my husband works for the local government and he was telling me that his female colleagues get 90 % of their salary when they go on maternity leave. He would love to be off for several months to look after our baby full time, so we had this wild idea that he could get on paternity leave for as many weeks as maternity leave is entitled for and get his full pay and look after our baby, and I would be off for two or three weeks or as long as I need to recover, we would still get about the same monthly income, our baby would be well looked after, without juggling between work and family, etc...
but paternity leave in this country, no matter what, is 2 weeks... it seems a bit archaic to me! And if your a self-employed man, well you probably don't get anything at all, not even two weeks off.
I think in some North european countries dads can take a few months off just like mums, but I'm not sure this is ever going to happen here! oh well too bad for us then!


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Italian to English
Keeping-in-touch time Feb 1, 2007

Hi Florence. I've just found this on a government website:

If your baby is due on or after 1 April 2007 you will be able to work for your employer or as a self-employed person for up to 10 days without losing any MA. These days are called Keeping in Touch days (KIT). If you work more than 10 days you will lose MA for the days that you have worked.

You must tell your Jobcentre Plus office about any work you do.

It therefore seems we can only work for 10 days whilst receiving maternity allowance, although I'm not sure how they would calculate this.

[Edited at 2007-02-01 10:03]


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Is it worth it? Feb 1, 2007

Florence Stubbs wrote:

I've looked into it a bit further yesterday, and it seems that from 1st April 2007, (ie if you give birth after 1st April 2007) you can work 10 hours per week and still get the Maternity Allowance minus these 10 hours. This is for self-employed people specifically and they call it the "keep-in-touch" time or something of this kind.


According to this link:

http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/ssa/benefit_information/a-z_of_benefits/maternity_allowance.htm

it is 10 days, not 10 hours:

What happens if: I do some work for an employer or as a self employed person before the end of my Maternity Allowance period?
If your baby is due on or before 31 March 2007 you will lose MA for the days you work.
If your baby is due on or after 1 April 2007 you will be able to work for your employer or as a self employed person for up to 10 days without losing any MA. These days are called Keeping in Touch days (KIT). If you work more than 10 days you will lose MA for the days that you have worked. You must tell Incapacity Benefits Branch about any work you do.


However, might it not be a better solution to work at least 16 hours a week (only just over 3 a day) and claim child tax credit and working tax credit? That way you could also keep in touch with all your clients. Personally, I found it was easier to find time to do things until the baby started to crawl (around 6 months old). So if you take the full 39 weeks maternity allowance, you may find you're starting to work again just when the baby needs more of your attention rather than less (unless you're planning on nursery school).


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Florence Stubbs
France
Local time: 23:25
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I got it wrong then :) Feb 1, 2007

it's not 10 hours a week then, but ten days during the whole time you receive MA...!
not great really, but better than not being allowed to work at all. I suppose they would calculate it according to your invoice dates or something like this ? but then you can always invoice your clients at a latter date and you would be able to work as much as you want ?! but then it's benefit fraud... I wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.
Oh, and my husband and i have also started a "baby fund" in which we put money aside every month to use when I'm on MA to help us get by.


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Sonia Hill
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Italian to English
Good idea Feb 1, 2007

The "baby fund" sounds like a good idea, I might try that too
As this is going to be my first one, I'm not sure what it will be like or how long it will take for things to get back to "almost normal". Ideally I'd like to take 6-8 weeks off, rather than claiming the full 39 weeks of maternity allowance. Adding 10 days allowance to this, I suppose I could claim for another 2 weeks after going back to work, or possibly four weeks if I'm working part-time, which I probably will be (I imagine that I could work 20 half days). Like you I wouldn't really feel comfortable committing benefit fraud and claiming for money I'm not entitled to.
I'm hoping to have a nice quiet baby that sleeps at night, which would certainly make it easier to get back to work


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
French to English
+ ...
Babies are all different Feb 1, 2007

Babies are all different and you never know until they arrive how you're going to be able to cope. My first baby was a dream, slept all the time, so I was able to continue working without any problems - obviously less than before, but I could still work for a good couple of hours each day. When my second baby came along three years later, he was a totally different kettle of fish and never slept for more than 20 minutes at a stretch in the daytime - just enough time to put the kettle on and decide what things needed doing most! Combined with the logistics of a 3-year-old no longer sleeping in the day and only going to nursery a couple of morning a week, it's no wonder I didn't work at all for the first year of my second son's life and was very glad of the maternity allowance.

If I were doing it all again (heaven forbid!), I would accept the maternity allowance for the first few weeks and then see how it goes. You can always notify them that you've started work again if you want to, but it's more difficult to claim retrospectively if you do decide you can't cope. As far as the tax credit elements are concerned, they can be backdated for up to three months, I believe, so you can always claim those in retrospect if you haven't managed to work as much as you'd hoped.

Good luck!


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rebekka
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:25
Russian to English
+ ...
make the most of the time with your baby Mar 1, 2007

My little one is nearly 10 months, and has been going to nursery two mornings a week since she was 6 months old (i.e. when the maternity allowance ran out): that gives me up to 10 hours a week when I know I'll be able to work without interruption.. then I do at least another 6 hours a week while she's sleeping in the day, after she's in bed at night, or when my husband can look after her on the weekends - doing at least 16 hours a week means we are entitled to working tax credit. Clearly, some weeks I have a lot of work and so do a lot more than that - I have been known to work through the night to get something done, because I found it easier to work in an uninterrupted stretch and then catch up on sleep the following night, and whenever baby slept in the day. It's not easy. That said, it's really good that we'll now be entitled to 9 months maternity allowance instead of 6 (I always thought it ridiculous to tell us we should be exculsively breastfeeding til 6 months, but not enable us to stay off work that long). Probably the best advice would be to use the ten "keeping in touch days" in one go, if that's allowed, maybe get your partner to take some holiday to babysit, and do one translation job that's about 10 days' work. The "baby fund" is a great idea - maybe you can start trying to get by on your partner's salary now, and save the whole of your salary (or as much of it as possible) for your baby fund. I think that we can all find ways of getting by on a lower income if we really put our minds to it - so my advice would be to take the full maternity leave and make the most of the time with your baby. Best of luck to those of you who are expecting!

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Maternity allowance in the UK when self-employed

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