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Statutory Maternity Pay for Supply Teachers

Supply teachers often ask us about Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), and a surprising number assume that they won’t qualify because they work in supply. In many cases, the teacher calls us to request an SMP1 form so they can claim Maternity Allowance, having discounted the possibility that we might pay SMP. Luckily for them, they’re employed by Orange Genie Education, and our expert team can make sure they get the right advice.

Why might supply teachers assume they won’t qualify for SMP?

It’s true that you’re less likely to qualify for SMP if you’re being paid directly by a supply teaching agency, because each assignment is treated as a separate engagement.

This gives you a series of shorter engagements and makes it harder for you to meet the qualifying conditions for SMP, which include a minimum length of employment.

If you’re employed by an umbrella company you have a single, continuous period of employment that includes all your assignments, so you’re far more likely to qualify for SMP.

You’re also still employed, and may still qualify, when you’re between assignments and in periods when there’s no work available, like school holidays.

Statutory Maternity Leave

It’s important to note that Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Maternity Pay are separate.

You qualify for up to 52 weeks’leave if you’re an employee and you give the correct notice. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with your employer, or how much you earn.

Do you Qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay?

You’ll qualify for SMP if you:

  • Have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks, continuing into the qualifying week. The qualifying week is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. 

  • Earn on average at least £120 per week

As you can see, that first condition will be difficult to meet with a series of short engagements, like you might have with an agency, but much easier if you have continuous employment with an umbrella company.

How much is Statutory Maternity Pay?

Statutory Maternity Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, SMP is 90% of your average weekly earnings and for the remaining 33 weeks, it’s £151.97, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Your average weekly earnings are calculated using the relevant period which is the 8-week period before the qualifying week.

How to claim Statutory Maternity Pay

  • At least 15 weeks before your due date, tell your employer when the baby is due and when you want your maternity leave to start. Your employer must confirm with 28 days how much SMP you’ll get and when it will start and stop.

  • Within 21 days of your SMP start date (or as early as possible if the baby is born early), give your employer proof that you’re pregnant. This can be your MATB1 certificate, or a letter from your doctor or midwife.

Shared Parental Leave/Pay

If you qualify, you may be able to share some of your maternity leave and/or pay with your partner.

You’d need to end your maternity leave/pay, (you must take at least 2 weeks) and any remaining maternity leave/pay can be shared. 

Shared Parental Leave/Pay can be taken in blocks separated by periods of work, rather than being taken all in one go.

If you don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay

If you don’t qualify for SMP, you might be able to claim Maternity Allowance. Your employer will give you an SMP1 form which explains why they’re not paying SMP.

You’ll need to complete an MA1 claim form and send it to the address on the form with proof of your income, your MATB1 certificate and your SMP1 form.

If you have questions about SMP or if Orange Genie can help in any way, please contact our expert team on 01296 468 483 or email

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