BENEFITS EXPERT: I’m told I’ve not worked long enough to get maternity pay
A. By the 15th week before your baby is due, you must have worked for your current employer for at least 26 weeks. If you have not met that criterion, then you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance instead. You must have been working and earning at least £30 per week in 26 out of the 66 weeks before your baby is due. Maternity Allowance is paid by the DWP and you would need to complete an MA1 form to apply.
Maternity Allowance is paid for 39 weeks and is 90% of your average wages – capped at £151.20 per week. You can apply from 15 weeks before your due date and can be paid from 11 weeks before your due date.
We would also advise you seek a benefit check based on your circumstances now and also after the birth of your child as you may be entitled to additional benefits depending on your circumstances.
Q. I am currently claiming Carer’s Allowance for my son with a top up of Income Support. I have been considering doing volunteer work and wanted to know if this would affect my Carer’s Allowance or Income Support.
A. Volunteering would not prevent you from claiming Carer's Allowance so long as you are able to meet the requirement of providing 35 hours per week of care. This would also be the case for your current Income Support claim. Although volunteer work is generally provided free of charge you will probably find that you will be reimbursed for any expense you might incur as part of your volunteer duties. Provided these are solely incurred in order for you to carry out your role then these will be disregarded as far as your benefits are concerned. Although doing work as a volunteer will not generally have any affect on your benefits you should disclose this to the DWP. Volunteering would not affect any of your son's benefits such as DLA if he is under 16 or PIP if he is over 16.