100 signatures reached
To: Amber Rudd
Make maternity pay fair for those with multiple jobs
Amend the current system to allow mothers to take their full income from multiple jobs into account when calculating maternity pay.
Why is this important?
To cut a long story short, I could loose out on £1337.70 of maternity pay because I have two jobs! I am not alone in this.
We need a transparent system that allows all mothers to take their full income into account when calculating maternity pay, no mater their working situation.
Currently, if you are eligible for statutory maternity pay through an employer, you are not eligible for maternity allowance- even if your income from your employer is a small fraction of your total earned income.
This means that many new mothers are missing out on thousands of pounds in maternity pay simply because the system does not provide an option to take your full income into account.
For those on a low income already, this is the difference between eating and not eating, at a time when the health and wellbeing of new mothers and and babies are hugely vulnerable. It presents unnecessary stress for pregnant women, which can effect the health of an unborn child.
After celebrating the news of my pregnancy with my employers, I was soon shocked to discover how complicated and unfair the maternity pay system is.
Along the way I came across these responses from people I went to for advice (I am paraphrasing):
Citizens Advice Bureau - 'Oh no, I hate maternity pay, it's so complicated. I'll have to ask my supervisor'.
My employers (who have been extremely supportive)- 'I've asked for advice from other HR and finance people I know, but no one could help as they were worried about misadvising'.
HMRC- 'yes, you do seem to fall into a bit of a loop hole' and 'I don't really know what to suggest'
IT SHOULDN'T BE THIS HARD!
Maternity pay for working mothers falls into two categories:
Statutory maternity pay (for employees earning over £118/week) and Maternity allowance (for self employed people and those who do not qualify for SMP due to low earnings or not being employed for the minimum term).
As far as I am aware they both pay up to £145/week for 39 weeks, and all of this money comes from the government (not your employer) through national insurance contributions.
If you earn less than £145/ week you can claim 90% of your earnings. This doesn't seem too bad... However, I discovered that because I qualify for SMP through my part time job ( just £5/week over the threshold, ) I cannot apply for Maternity Allowance, which would allow me to take my other earnings into account. So I would get £110.70 /week rather than £145.
To cut a long story short, I could loose out on £1337.70 of maternity pay because I have two jobs!
This seems wildly unfair, but I can imagine that my circumstances are the tip of the iceberg. There will be people out there who only only just hit the threshold, in the same trap but losing more of their entitlement because the system doesn't recognise their situation.
We need a system that allows all mothers to take their full income into account, no mater their working situation. This could be a system that allows SMP to be topped up with MA, or one calculation method to fit all.
Here are some tips for those in my position:
*I AM NOT AN EXPERT So lease check out your facts before you make any rash decisions*
ACT FAST! your employer can do the maths to work out roughly what you might be entitled to before your 'qualifying period'. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER and it may come down to the difference of 1p.
HMRC had the most accurate advice and YOU CAN CALL THEM to ask questions, check your qualifying period etc. My employers were great, but many would not bother to do the digging that they did and it helped me understand the situation.
HMRC employee help line 0300 200 3500.
Your 'QUALIFYING PERIOD' is the 8 weeks/2 months from which they take your average income. It is not so easy to work out- for me it was 4 and 5 monthly pay days before my due date, approximately week 17-25 of pregnancy (before you are obliged to tell your employer) but it may depend on a few things like how you are paid and when you are due.
I worked out that I either needed to have my pay cut by £50 during my qualifying period (so I don't qualify for SMP- seems bonkers, right?), or earn about £350 more (so I qualify for more)- your employer may be supportive and let you adjust your hours accordingly.
If you DO NOT QUALIFY FOR STATUTORY MATERNITY PAY then you can take income from multiple jobs into account through MATERNITY ALLOWANCE including self employment.
CHECK YOUR NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS online, you may need to set up an account to do this. For maternity allowance you need 13 contributions in the 66 weeks before leave- if like me you're trying to work all this out before you've done your tax return(for my self employment), you won't be able to see the current year, but you can pay at the end of the year- I also believe your can back pay some contributions, so check it out ASAP but don't fret.
DON'T TAKE THE FIRST ANSWER you are offered, digging about may make your maternity leave a lot less daunting.
Try not to stress out (I did not manage this one).
I do not know anything about shared parental leave but I'm sure that's a whole other barrel of fun!