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What Happens To Your Pension On Maternity Leave?

During Maternity Leave you're allowed to benefit from all the things you usually would such as paid holiday, employee benefits and employer pension benefits.



Will I be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay?


You'll be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay if you have worked for your employer for 26 continuous weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due date and earn at least £123 a week (gross) on average. You will need to tell your employer you want to stop work to have a baby and the day you want your Statutory Maternity Pay to start and you need to give them at least 28 days’ notice. This may be in writing if they ask for it. You also need to give proof that you’re pregnant, such as a letter from your doctor or midwife or your MATB1 certificate. Your employer must confirm within 28 days how much Statutory Maternity Pay you’ll get and when it will start and stop.


How much Statutory Maternity Pay will I get?


With Statutory Maternity Pay you get 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks. For the next 33 weeks, you get the lower of 90% of your average weekly earnings and £156.66 a week. The remaining 13 weeks are unpaid. Income tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted from these payments, which are paid in the same way as your wages (for example monthly or weekly).


What happens to my pension on maternity leave?


You will receive Statutory Maternity Pay for 39 weeks of your maternity leave and are entitled to take 52 weeks off work. During the first 39 weeks your employer must continue to contribute to your workplace pension. This may be longer if your employer offers this in your contract. You need to make sure you remain in your pension scheme, continue with your contributions and do not opt-out.


The employer contributions will usually be based on your salary before you went on maternity leave but your contributions will be based on your actual earnings during maternity leave which may be lower. You may wish to consider topping up your pension when you can afford to do so.


Your employer does not have to contribute to your pension during the period where you are not being paid, so the last 13 weeks of maternity leave. However, your contract may state otherwise so it's worth checking this.



As for your State Pension, you will continue to pay National Insurance if your maternity pay is £190 a week or more. If your maternity pay is between £123 and £190 a week, you’ll get National Insurance credits which count towards your State Pension. If your pay is less than £123 a week and your child is under 12 then claiming Child Benefit can help protect your State Pension (see my article on claiming Child Benefit).


What should I do if my employer isn't paying what they should into my pension?


Check with your employer that your pension contributions are being paid while you're on maternity leave. If you're concerned that your employer isn't paying what you're entitled to and have spoken to your employer about this, you can contact the Pension Wise helpline on 0800 011 3797 or the HM Revenue & Customs Employee Helpline directly on 0300 200 3300.


Please note that this is general guidance only and not advice. The information given relates to the tax year the article was written and tax and legislation may change in future years.


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