Particular issues can arise in relation to salary sacrifice arrangements where a woman is, or may be, entitled to statutory maternity benefits. HMRC have issued extensive guidance on these issues at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/salary-sacrifice-and-the-effects-on-paye#the-basics. The guidance provides a thorough examination of the issues and see also HMRC Employment Income Manual 42750ff. Key points are as follows:

SMP entitlement is calculated on actual gross earnings (salary and other earnings) that are subject to Class 1 NICs during a set period;

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