Maternity, paternity and adoption leave and tax credits

If you or your partner are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave, you may still count as being in work for Working Tax Credit purposes. It'll depend on what your usual working hours were before you went on leave, and the length of time you're off work.

On this page:

Your usual working hours

Your usual working hours are the hours you worked every week before you went on leave.

To get Working Tax Credit, you need to work a minimum number of hours, depending on your circumstances and whether or not you have children.

If you don't have children

To get Working Tax Credit, you must normally be aged 25 or over and work at least 30 hours a week. But you only need to work 16 hours or more a week if you are:

  • aged at least 16 and qualify for an extra payment of Working Tax Credit because you're disabled
  • aged 60 or over

If you have children

To get Working Tax Credit you need to be aged at least 16, and working the following hours:

  • if you're single, you need to work at least 16 hours a week
  • if you're in a couple, your joint working hours need to be at least 24 a week, with one of you working at least 16 hours a week

So if you're in a couple and only one of you is working, that person must be working at least 24 hours a week.

You can sometimes still qualify if your joint hours are less than 24 a week - follow the first link below to find out more.

What counts as work for Working Tax Credit?

Working out usual working hours for your tax credits claim

Top

Maternity and adoption leave - when you can claim tax credits

You count as being in work for up to 39 weeks. This is the first 26 weeks of ordinary maternity or adoption leave, and the first 13 weeks of any additional maternity or adoption leave.

If you're already getting Working Tax Credit

As long as you count as being in work, you can carry on getting Working Tax Credit when your leave starts. You count as being in work if you were working the minimum hours for your circumstances immediately beforehand. For example, normally 30 hours or more a week if you've no children already, and your baby's not been born or placed with you yet.

If this doesn't apply to you, you may still be able to carry on getting Working Tax Credit if both of the following apply:

  • you have a partner
  • your partner is working the minimum number of hours for your circumstances

Follow the link below to find out the minimum working hours for Working Tax Credit.

What counts as work for Working Tax Credit?

Claiming Working Tax Credit for the first time

You might claim Working Tax Credit for the first time while you're on leave. To qualify, you need to count as being in work. So you'll need to have been working the minimum hours for your circumstances, immediately before going on leave. For example, if your baby's been born or placed with you, or you've already got children, you'll normally need to have been working:

  • at least 16 hours a week - if you're a single parent
  • at least 24 hours a week between you - if you're a couple (with one of you working at least 16 hours a week)

If this doesn't apply to you, you may still be able to claim Working Tax Credit if both of the following apply:

  • you have a partner
  • your partner is working the minimum number of hours for your circumstances

Follow the link below to find out the minimum hours you need to work for Working Tax Credit.

What counts as work for Working Tax Credit?

Keeping the Tax Credit Office up to date

If you don't go back to work immediately after your first 39 weeks of maternity or adoption leave, let the Tax Credit Office know. You can do this by calling the Tax Credit Helpline. Get in touch within one month. If you don't, you may be paid too much money which you'll have to pay back, and you may be asked to pay a penalty.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Find out more about maternity pay and leave on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

Find out more about adoption pay and leave on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

Top

Paternity leave - when you can claim tax credits

You count as being in work for your two weeks of ordinary paternity leave.

Additional paternity leave

You might take additional paternity leave if your partner chooses to go back to work. You count as being in work during your additional paternity leave - but only for the additional leave you take in the period that:

  • starts from the 20th week after your child was born or placed for adoption
  • ends when your partner's 39 weeks of maternity or adoption leave would have ended - if they had chosen to take the full 39 weeks

If you're already getting Working Tax Credit

As long as you count as being in work, you can carry on getting Working Tax Credit when your leave starts. You count as being in work if you were working the minimum hours for your circumstances immediately beforehand. For example, normally 30 hours or more a week if you've no children already, and your baby's not been born or placed with you yet.

If this doesn't apply to you, you may still be able to carry on getting Working Tax Credit if both of the following apply:

  • you have a partner
  • your partner is working the minimum number of hours for your circumstances

Follow the link below to find out the minimum hours you need to work for Working Tax Credit.

What counts as work for Working Tax Credit?

Claiming Working Tax Credit for the first time

You might claim Working Tax Credit for the first time while you're on leave. To qualify, you need to count as being in work. So you'll need to have been working the minimum hours for your circumstances, immediately before going on leave. For example, if your baby's been born or placed with you, or you've already got children, you'll normally need to have been working:

  • at least 16 hours a week - if you're a single parent
  • at least 24 hours a week between you - if you're in a couple (with one of you working at least 16 hours a week)

If this doesn't apply to you, you may still be able to claim Working Tax Credit if both of the following apply:

  • you have a partner
  • your partner is working the minimum number of hours for your circumstances

Follow the link below to find out the minimum hours you need to work for Working Tax Credit.

What counts as work for Working Tax Credit?

Keeping the Tax Credit Office up to date

Let the Tax Credit Office know if you don't go back to work immediately after your ordinary paternity leave. Also let them know if you take any additional paternity leave outside of the period shown under 'Additional paternity leave' above. You can do this by calling the Tax Credit Helpline. Get in touch within one month. If you don't, you may be paid too much money which you'll have to pay back, and you may be charged a penalty.

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

Find out more about paternity pay and leave on GOV.UK (Opens new window)

Top

Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit

You may also be able to claim Child Tax Credit for your new baby or adopted child - you don't have to be working. You may be able to claim from the date of placement for adoption or birth of your child. Any claim can only be backdated up to one month to the date of birth or adoption, so you should claim as soon as possible. If you're unsure whether you can claim, you can contact the Tax Credit Helpline for help and advice.

New baby - what tax credits are you entitled to?

Contact details for the Tax Credit Helpline

You'll normally be able to get Child Benefit for your new baby or adopted child. You don't have to be receiving tax credits to get it.

Child Benefit

Top

More useful links

How to claim tax credits

Tax credits: how and when to report changes

Top