MAT B1 form – what is it and when do I get one?

The Maternity Certificate (MAT B1) you need in order to claim maternity benefits and arrange maternity leave with your employer

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The MAT B1 form is one of those things you don’t know you need – until you suddenly need it. The Government’s maternity website is not the easiest to navigate, so we’ve collected together everything you need to know about this form and answered the questions you’ve been asking on our forums.

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What is the MATB1 form?

Also known as the Maternity Certificate, the MATB1 is the key piece of paperwork you’ll need when working out your maternity leave arrangements. You’ll need a MATB1 form regardless of whether you’ll be claiming Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) from your employer or Maternity Allowance (MA) from Jobcentre Plus.

Why do I need it?

The form is your passport to maternity riches (well, hopefully). Or put it another way, you’ll need it if you’re employed, self-employed, working full-time or part-time, in order to claim your maternity pay and benefits. But it’s not just Government benefits, you’ll also need a copy of your MATB1 to claim free dental care and even privileges on trains.

It also confirms that your pregnancy does indeed exist, as well as naming the due date of baby.

When do I get it?

You will be able to get your MATB1 from 20 weeks into your pregnancy. The rule is that certificates must not be issued more than 20 weeks before your estimated due date.

Who do I get it from?

The midwife or doctor who’s caring for you in pregnancy will give you the form, but we know from lots of our forum mums that you might need to give them a nudge to remind them. If you don’t have a routine ante-natal appointment due around this time, consider booking one or making a request by phone.

On our forum, girlinleeds had no problem with this approach, saying: “I phoned my midwife and explained and she just left it for me to collect at my GP surgery.”

Jennie managed to get in early with hers: “I saw my midwife yesterday and she gave me mine then – I’m only 21 weeks but she said as I’m here she might as well get that form over with.”

Who signs it?

Your doctor or midwife will sign it. This is a free service and the rules specify that it must be completed in ink or, intriguingly, “other indelible substance”.

What do I do with it?

First thing is make a copy. You may need copies to prove your pregnancy to claim privileges on public transport, for example.

Second thing is to give the original to your employer. You don’t get long – only a 5 week window. You need to hand it to your employer no later than 25 weeks into your pregnancy (or at least 15 weeks before your due date). Failure to do so could delay your maternity pay arrangements,  so pop the date in your diary now.

Forum-user, Kia, isn’t too worried about having missed her window, however. “I haven’t had my MATB1 and I’m 28 weeks! Rubbish midwife! Fortunately my boss doesn’t have much of a clue when I’m supposed to hand in forms so it’s not a problem!”

What if I lose my MATB1 form?

Hmmm, best if you don’t. You can apply for a duplicate form, but there’ll be lots of admin to sort out. Instead, as soon as you get your MATB1, make a copy and keep it somewhere safe.

What exactly do I need to give and tell my employer to claim SMP?

You need to give your employer your Maternity Leave Letter – see our letter template that you can use and simply fill in your relevant details.

This letter confirms that you are pregnant, when your due date is and when you’d like to start your maternity leave.

If you’re worried about confirming the start date of your maternity leave, you can change this, as long as you give your employer at least 28 days’ notice. Check your employer knows this too. Some employers are more clued up than others on maternity rights. Your employer needs to confirm your maternity leave start and end date within 28 days of receiving your Maternity Leave Letter.

Does everyone qualify for SMP?

No. SMP is available to those of you who’ve been working for your employer continually for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before your due date, and who earn at least £111 a week gross (ie before tax) in an 8 week ‘relevant period’.  You must also be on the payroll, give the correct notice period (ie 15 weeks before your due date) and provide proof you’re pregnant – back to the MATB1 again. You will receive your SMP from your employer.

What if I don’t qualify for SMP?

You may be eligible for Maternity Allowance. MA is a benefit paid by Jobcentre Plus to pregnant women who are self-employed, recently employed or cannot get SMP. To apply for MA, you’ll need to fill in a MA1 claim form  – you can either fill it in online or print it out then fill it in. Either way, you’ll need to print it out and send it to the address on the form.

Find out more information on maternity leave rights and entitlement and the two main maternity benefit options on the Government website.

How long can I claim for?

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Both SMP and MA are paid for up to 39 weeks. You can begin to claim from as early as 11 weeks before your due date, right up to the day before your baby’s birth.

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