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Statutory maternity pay for Dentists

Typically, employees are able to claim statutory maternity pay, maternity leave and time off work for antenatal appoints when they are pregnant. However, the regulations regarding maternity pay apply to employees, rather than self-employed workers. As many dentists work on a self-employed basis, it can be difficult to determine what maternity rights you have and what you’re entitled to.

Whether you’re a self-employed dentist, a dental practice owner or a manager, it’s important to know what rights you have and whether you’ll benefit from maternity pay for dentists. Whilst individuals should always be able to take the requisite amount of maternity leave, this does need to be balanced with the commercial interests of the business.

By keeping up to date with the relevant government guidance and regulation, you can ensure you’re able to take the maternity leave you’re entitled to and claim the appropriate amount of income during this time. Similarly, individuals in managerial positions can determine how to cater for workers who will be taking maternity leave and plan how the business can accommodate this.

Maternity leave for Self-Employed Dentists

Are you eligible to take maternity leave?

Self-employed dentists can certainly take time off as maternity leave, but the amount of income you can claim during this time will depend on a number of factors. If you have set up a company and are a director of that company, you should be eligible to receive statutory maternity pay (SMP). As you are technically an employee of the company, as a director, this entitles you to receive SMP from HMRC.

However, many dentists operate as self-employed sole traders and this doesn’t qualify you to receive SMP. Instead, dentists who are self-employed sole traders will need to claim maternity allowance.

If the following criteria are satisfied, you should be able to take up to 39 weeks off and receive maternity allowance during this time:

• You have been self-employed or employed for at least 26 weeks of the 66 weeks before the baby’s due date
• You have earned at least £30 per week for 13 weeks or more

You can receive maternity allowance 11 weeks before your baby’s due date, providing you have started your maternity leave and have stopped working. However, the latest date that maternity allowance can start is the day after the birth of your baby.

How much maternity allowance will you get as a dentist?

Currently, maternity allowance is limited to £148.98 per week or 90% of your usual income. Whichever is the lower figure will apply, so the maximum you can receive as maternity allowance will be £148.98 according to the current rates.

However, you will need to complete a comprehensive form (MATB1 which you can get from your midwife or doctor) in order to obtain maternity allowance and this must be submitted to the relevant government department. You are eligible to submit this form once you are 26 weeks pregnant, so it’s usually beneficial to submit your form early to ensure there won’t be any delays in your payments.

It’s also worth noting that when receiving Maternity Allowance, you will also receive Class 1 NI credits automatically.

Maternity leave for NHS Dentists?

NHS logo for Dental Maternity Leave pageNHS Dentists can operate in a number of different ways, and the way your business is set up will determine whether you’re eligible for additional help. If you have a signed contract with the NHS, it may be possible for you to claim contractual maternity pay from them. As a ‘Dental Performer’, this would entitle you to up to 26 weeks of maternity leave pay, providing you meet specific criteria, such as:

• You must have been on the NHS Dental List as a provider or performer for a period of at least 2 years, and the last 26 weeks must have been continuous and immediately prior to the 15th week before your baby’s due date. This effectively means that you must have been on the NHS Dental List prior to becoming pregnant.
• You do not take your leave until 11 weeks before your baby is due
• You don’t carry out work during your maternity leave, although you may attend the practice in order to keep in touch with colleagues
• You may be required to confirm that you intend to work with an NHS employer (either at your existing practice or another one) for at least 3 months after your leave has ended.

If you’re eligible to claim contractual maternity pay, the amount you will receive will depend on your pensionable earnings. In order to make a claim, you will, therefore, need to be partaking in the superannuation scheme. However, you’re able to opt into the scheme up to 2 weeks before you became pregnant, so you could opt into the superannuation scheme if you’re planning to have a baby in the near future.

Although your maternity allowance payments will be deducted from your contractual maternity payments, you could still receive a significant amount. Currently, contractual maternity payments are capped at £1,660 per week for Dental Performers who do not carry out orthodontic treatments.

Typically, NHS maternity payments will vary during the course of your maternity leave. During weeks 1-8 you may receive 90-100% of your usual income as dental maternity pay, for example, whilst your payments during weeks 9-26 may be reduced to 50% of your average income. Your earnings during weeks 18-25 of your pregnancy are generally used to calculate what your average earnings are for the purposes of calculating maternity pay.

Whilst your payments will depend on your pensionable earnings, contractual maternity can be paid to dentists on top of their maternity allowance or SMP, so it’s an added income which you could be entitled to. Although NHS maternity leave is only paid for a maximum of 26 weeks, you can receive SMP or maternity allowance for 39 weeks. Should you wish to take longer off work as maternity leave, you should be entitled to take an extra 13 weeks as unpaid leave. This ensures you’ll be able to take up to 52 weeks off as maternity leave, although you won’t receive a continuous income throughout this time.

What are the tax implications of taking maternity leave if you’re a dentist?

Your tax liabilities will depend on the type of maternity leave, pay and/or allowance you’re entitled to. If you are a company director and are eligible to receive statutory maternity pay, for example, tax and national insurance will be deducted from your payments.

If you’re a self-employed sole trader and you’re eligible to receive maternity allowance, however, you won’t be required to pay tax on it.

Alternatively, NHS maternity payments are usually taxed via the company. As these payments are made to the company, and then paid to the individual via the company, they are likely to be classed as company income and taxed accordingly. However, the exact nature of the company structure could affect the taxable nature of these payments so it’s advisable to check your tax liability with HMRC.

For Dental Practice Owners, Directors and Managers

What do I have to do if a dentist is going on maternity leave?

Individuals are protected by various laws and regulations when they are eligible for maternity leave, so it’s important to know what your duties are. Even though many dentists operate on a self-employed basis, you should ensure that they are able to take the relevant amount of time off work. This includes antenatal appointments prior to their maternity leave, as well as certain medical appointments following their maternity leave (depending on how quickly they return to work).

Ensuring individuals are treated fairly despite being on, or due to take, maternity leave is essential, and you may also need to make practical adjustments in the workplace for individuals whose health is affected by their pregnancy.

Making maternity payments to your dentists

Whether or not dental practice managers and owners are required to make maternity payments will depend on the individual’s eligibility and their working arrangements.

If the individual is claiming maternity allowance, they will claim this from the government directly and payments will be made into their personal bank account. In this situation, practice owners or operators aren’t required to make payments.

However, if the dentist has set up a company and is a director of this company, they will be eligible to claim statutory maternity pay from HMRC. Usually, the company pays the relevant amount of statutory maternity pay to the individual and then claims it back from the government. Depending on the organisational structure at your practice, the individual may do this themselves or you may need to act on their behalf.

Similarly, NHS maternity payments will typically go through the company accounts. Once they have been paid to the company, the company will make payments to the individual. Again, the exact set up of the business will determine whether the individual is responsible for organising this or if a practice manager or owner should manage these payments.

Due to the varying employment options available to dentists, calculating dentist maternity pay isn’t always straightforward. If you’re unsure what you’re entitled to or how to manage a worker’s maternity leave, it may be beneficial to seek help and advice from a reputable tax advisor, a qualified financial advisor or HMRC themselves.

Whilst self-employed dentists are typically eligible to receive either maternity allowance or statutory maternity pay, as well as NHS maternity pay in some situations, it’s important to identify exactly what your current organisational stricture entitles you to. This avoids underpayments and overpayments and ensures you are well aware of your financial rights following the birth of your baby.

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