So, it’s no secret (I hope) that I self-published my most recent book Warrior…Princess…Submissive… on Friday. I also took a pregnancy test and found myself to be pregnant.
Given how my employment record has been over the past 18 months, that meant I needed to do some serious research and use all of my creative skills to work out how on Earth I was going to qualify for Maternity Allowance.
In Britain, you get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for 39 weeks if you’ve worked for THE SAME employer for the first 26 weeks out of the 41 weeks before the child is born (and earned over £30 a week). Your employer legally has to pay this if you meet specific criteria.
I haven’t done that due to mental illness and losing both parents in 12 months. Not only that, but I don’t genuinely know how much longer I’m going to put up with the crap going on at work. It’s a joke. Name badge jobs always are, because you end up working with snotty 17 year olds who think the universe is made for them and only them and don’t understand why anyone with professional qualifications would do this job. I don’t even remember the last time I kept a “working for the man” type job for 6 months so expecting to do it while pregnant with NO time off is unrealistic and really stressing me out.
If you don’t qualify for SMP, you can apply (through the Jobcentre – the ironic name given to the British Welfare Offices) for Maternity Allowance. On the money I earn at Coffee and Food Outlet, I would get the same amount (minus a few pence) either way. It’s £138.18 on MA or £139 on SMP. There’s just one problem:
You get Maternity Allowance (MA) for 39 weeks if you’ve worked for ANY EMPLOYER for more than 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the child is born.
HOWEVER, I haven’t worked 26 weeks in the last 12 months (despite a constant employment record albeit many employers before this), and I only have 25 weeks before the cut-off week when I won’t be eligible for MA through being an employee, because I hadn’t been working for long enough by the time I got pregnant. So I’m one week short of qualifying, and as a result, the welfare office can’t give me anything (I don’t qualify for the standard Welfare that many people can get for 8 weeks around giving birth, because my husband works too many hours despite it being for a pittance). Yet again this year, I discover I have paid loads of tax over my life and get nothing in return.
Confused? Yeah they design the system like this on purpose to make it as hard as possible for anyone other than “hardened parents” to get any money out of the system, whilst simultaneously telling you how much you can get.
So basically I was up a paddle without a creek. Until I researched the laws surrounding self-employment and maternity pay.
This is where Maternity Allowance comes into its own. If you are registered as self-employed and DON’T have a small earnings certificate you pay £2.80 per week in Class II national insurance contributions. You only need to do this for 6 months, which comes to £63-ish. Then, when the baby is due you can claim Maternity Allowance from the Jobcentre, no questions asked, at a rate of £138.18-ish. UNLESS YOU HAVE A SMALL BUSINESS EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE.
If you have a Small Earnings Exemption Certificate (or whatever they’re calling it these days) then you get £27 a week. That means you lose £108 per week, every week for 39 weeks. Because you didn’t pay £2.80 a week for 26 weeks. So it REALLY makes sense to pay class II contributions even if you are exempt. NOT ONLY THAT but voluntary contributions ARE NOT COUNTED unless you cancel your Small Earnings Exemption Certificate first. Otherwise, you get £27 a week. See here for more info.
So this evening, I phoned the tax office and registered myself as self employed – I backdated this to 1st June 2015, and told them I was a writer – both of articles and books, I want to keep my options open – and they said that when I need to pay NI contributions, I can phone them and request a bill, otherwise I’ll be billed for the whole tax year in April. It’s not GUARANTEED that I get MA until I’ve actually paid those National Insurance contributions.
So I’m officially a writer, it’s legal, and now I’m going to have to do self assessment and what not at the end of the tax year. Oh well, it was always on the cards and maybe one day I’ll actually get a liveable amount of money from writing, at which point I won’t have to navigate silly frifferies like maternity pay. I highly recommend anyone who isn’t eligible for maternity pay (SMP or MA) through their employment to register as self employed. I’m sure you can think of something you do (sell junk on ebay? someone gave you £5 for petrol? Published a book?) that can cover you so you don’t lose out. Stress? Gone!
If you’d like to contribute to the maternity fund and aren’t offended by adult erotic fiction ebooks, my latest book Warrior…Princess…Submissive… can be found here on Amazon. I told Amazon to retail it at $2.99 or £1.99 but I believe they’ve marked it up to $3.01 and I don’t know why.
PS, is anyone else who blogs getting the Blue Version 2.0 posting experience yet?? As if Original Blue wasn’t bad enough compared to the Black “new post” page, Blue Version 2.0 is horriffic!! You can’t freetype categories any more and instead have to waste time with going through an “add new category” menu!! Oh, then you have to also Check the category despite the fact you already selected it! It’s just so stupid! Also the sidebar doesn’t follow you so you have to scroll to the top of the post to reach it, and the “visual” “HTML” tabs? you have to scroll to the top of the post to reach them, too. Did I mention how STUPID and timewastey this is? They need to bring back Black or even Blue Version 1.0! Grr.
ALSO THERE APPEARS TO BE NO WAY OF UPLOADING PICTURES! WTF??
Oh, and on re-reading, I found out that despite the fact I told it to categorize this in “writing” and wasted time adding it as a category, it’s posted it in “uncategorized.” Poor show, WordPress; sort yourself out.