To qualify for maternity leave and Statutory Maternity pay, a woman must be an employee, that is to say, she must work under a contract of employment. In the same way that individuals who are self-employed are not bound by statutory legislation on, for example, sick leave or holidays, any period of leave to cover the birth of a baby will be a matter of personal decision.
However, as a self employed person you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (as opposed to the Statutory Maternity Pay due to employees) to fund the period that you will not be working. Maternity Allowance currently pays a standard weekly rate of £117.18 or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings (before tax), whichever is the smaller. It is paid for a maximum of 39 weeks.
Visit website www.direct.gov.uk for more information, or contact your accountant or local jobcentre plus office for further details.