Most UK employers improve on SMP

By Julie Griffiths on 24 July 2018 Research Employment SMP - Statutory Maternity Pay

New research reveals the majority (70%) of employers in all sectors improve on statutory maternity pay (SMP).

The findings suggest that many employers believe that the basic SMP of £145.18 per week is ‘inadequate’, according to Zoe Woolacott from the Incomes Data Research – the organisation that conducted the research.

IDR conducted its Maternity and paternity pay 2018 survey between February and April 2018. The survey gathered information from 119 organisations across the UK, mostly in the private sector and jointly employing more than 458,000 staff.

Results from the survey reveal that enhanced maternity packages are worth an average of 16 weeks’ full pay before dropping to lower-rate SMP for the remainder of the 39-week paid maternity leave period.

Zoe added: ‘They feel that a longer period of fully-paid leave can reap dividends in helping them engage and retain talent – even if not all companies openly share their maternity policies with prospective recruits at present.’

IDR also found some variation by sector and organisation size with the best maternity policies on offer at manufacturers and utilities firms, closely followed by organisations in the public sector. 

Around two-thirds of the private services companies offer enhanced maternity pay but these tended to be less generous, at around 12 weeks’ full pay. 

Larger organisations were generally the most likely to improve on SMP but the survey revealed that even three-fifths of employers with between 50 and 249 staff improve on the minimum – it is only among the smallest employers that statutory provision predominates (covering 75% of such respondents).

As for paternity pay, IDR found that a slight majority (60%) of employers improve on the statutory paternity pay provisions. 

Around two-thirds of the organisations questioned provide full pay for the two weeks of statutory paternity leave rather than the statutory figure of £145.18. 

Enhanced paternity pay tends to be less prevalent within the private sector (around half such employers) than at public sector and not-for-profit organisations.