AFF has received a number of queries from spouses posted overseas who feel they have been disadvantaged when applying for Maternity Allowance (MA) due to lack of information, poor advice or because a posting during pregnancy has cut short the qualifying period. Caroline Mayne, AFF Employment and Training Specialist, looks at the process…
Yes – you can get MA in a European Economic Area (EEA) country as long as you satisfy the rules. These are just the same as if you were living in the UK (you must have been employed or self-employed for at least 26 of the 66 weeks before the week your baby is due). EEA countries have reciprocal agreements for certain benefits which means you are entitled to MA if you fall pregnant overseas or, if you move overseas whilst you are claiming.
To continue your entitlement to MA if you are posted overseas within the EEA, the last place you worked and paid National Insurance (NI) must be in the UK.
I’m not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) but think I can get MA. How?
If you’re working in the UK, fall pregnant and are due to move overseas, notify the job centre as soon as you know as they will manage your MA claim.
If you’re already overseas when you need to make the claim, contact the DWP International Pension Centre.
We are off to Germany soon and I’m pregnant. I won’t be able to return to work after the baby is born. Will I have to pay the SMP back?
If you resign during your maternity leave, this does not affect your entitlement to SMP from your former employer. The company will still be required to pay. There’s no requirement for you to have to repay any SMP or a requirement for you to return to work for six weeks after the end of your maternity leave. If you have Contractual Maternity Pay (such as a company scheme) then you may have to pay this back.
I work for a local company in SHAPE and have fallen pregnant. Can I claim?
If you have been working in another EEA country, you may be insured for sickness. If you are, you could claim maternity benefit under that country’s scheme and your UK insurance may help you get it.
The authorities there will ask the HMRC NI Contributions Office for details of your UK insurance record.
HMRC will send the E104 form on to them. They will usually need to get in touch with your previous employer in the UK. The authorities who run the foreign maternity scheme will then decide using their own rules.
I run my own business – can I claim MA?
You must have been paying Class 2 NI contributions, have been self-employed for at least 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the week your baby is due and have earned at least £30 a week over any 13-week period.
We live in BATUS – can I claim MA?
If you’re accompanying your soldier overseas to countries outside the EEA and fall pregnant, you may be entitled to an MOD Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance. Information is available on the AFF website.
We would love to hear your experiences of claiming MA or benefits whilst overseas. We will work with the MOD, Armed Forces Covenant and DWP to improve the processes and policy for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org