Statutory maternity pay (SMP) must be paid to a pregnant employee who has been continuously employed by the employer for at least 26 weeks, up to the week before the 14th week before the week in which the birth is expected.
There is no rule to say that the employee must be paid at a minimum rate for the entire 26 week period. In a recent case an office junior who worked unpaid on a work-experience trial at the beginning of the 26-week period was considered to be an employee for the entire period for SMP purposes. Even though she hadn’t signed an employment contract, she was paid expenses of £15 per week and was included on the payroll with nil pay.
A second condition of SMP is that the employee must give her employer notice of her pregnancy. This is normally done on form MAT B1; however, notice for pregnancy may be given to the employer verbally.