How does Maternity Allowance work in Northern Ireland?

How Does Maternity Allowance Work in Northern Ireland?

In Northern Ireland, Maternity Allowance is financial support that the government usually provides when an expectant mother does not qualify for statutory maternity pay.

It can be a lifeline for many families, and it is worth considering your entitlement if you are growing your family or if you are considering having children one day.

Key dates for Maternity Allowance

You can start your claim for Maternity Allowance once you reach 26 weeks of pregnancy. If you are found to be eligible, you will start to receive payments 11 weeks before your baby’s due date.

Maternity Allowance eligibility

In order to receive Maternity Allowance that covers 39 weeks of your pregnancy, one of the following conditions would typically have to apply:

  • You’re employed but you don’t receive Statutory Maternity Pay
  • You’re self-employed and pay Class 2 National Insurance including Voluntary National Insurance for at least 13 of the 66 weeks before your baby is due – the amount you’ll get depends on if you have paid more than 13 Class 2 National Insurance contributions
  • Recently, you have stopped working

In the 66 weeks before your baby’s due date, you will have needed to have been:

  • Employed or self-employed for at least 26 weeks
  • Earning, or classed as earning, at least £30 a week over any 13-week period of which the weeks don’t have to be together

If you are not eligible for 39 weeks of Maternity Allowance, you may qualify for 14 weeks of Maternity Allowance.

In this case, you could get Maternity Allowance for 14 weeks if for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before your baby is due:

  • you’re married or in a civil partnership
  • you’re not employed or self-employed
  • you take part in the business of your self-employed spouse or civil partner
  • the work you do is for the business and is unpaid
  • your spouse or civil partner is registered as self-employed with HMRC and has paid at least 26 Class 2 National Insurance contributions in the ‘test period’
  • you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or the higher amount of Maternity Allowance for the same pregnancy

Maternity Allowance eligibility if you have suffered baby loss

In the unfortunate instance that you do lose your baby, please do not rule out claiming for Maternity Allowance completely.

You may still qualify if the baby is either:

  • stillborn from the start of the 24th week of pregnancy
  • born alive at any point during the pregnancy

Maternity Allowance payments

Depending on your eligibility, the payments you could receive are:

  • £151.20 a week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) for up to 39 weeks
  • £30 a week for up to 14 weeks

If you would like to work out your maternity allowance entitlement, you can use the maternity eligibility calculator.

The impact of COVID-19 on Maternity Allowance

Due to the pandemic and the employment uncertainty it brings, you may still qualify even if you have recently stopped working or if you have had several different jobs or periods of unemployment.

In addition, since 25th April 2020, anyone who qualifies for Maternity Allowance will have the amounts calculated based on their full pay and not any furloughed rate.

For full details on Maternity Allowance and to make a claim, visit the NI Direct website.