Maternity benefit is payable to employed and self-employed mothers who satisfy the requisite social insurance contributions. A doctor’s certificate is required to certify the expected date of delivery.
In the case of an employed contributor, the employer is to certify that she is entitled to leave under the Maternity Protection Act. An employed contributor must have 39 contributions paid in the 12 months prior to the maternity leave, at least 39 since first started working and at least 39 paid or credited in the penultimate contribution year or, at least 26 in the last year and in the second and third last year.
If the mother dies within 6 months of birth the father has certain entitlements under employment legislation. In this instance, he may receive an equivalent benefit.
An employed person must have
- at least 9 months contribution in the previous year or
- at least 9 months contributions paid since commencement of employment and at least 9 months contribution paid or credited in the pre-penultimate tax year or the following (Preceding) tax year or
- 6 months contributions paid in the each of the pre-penultimate and preceding tax years.
Self-employed person must have 52 weeks s contributions paid in the lase, second or third last contribution year.
Maternity benefit is 80% of the weekly earnings of the woman concerned, subject, however, to a maximum of [€280] or a minimum up to €221.80 or the illness benefit rates. The payment lasts for up to 26 weeks. The period begins between two weeks before the expected birth date and four weeks afterwards.
The additional optional period of eight weeks is unpaid and does not qualify for any Social Welfare Payment.
A woman may not qualify for maternity benefit, if she engages in any business other then domestic duties, during the period or fails to submit to examination.
There are disqualifications for engaging in any work other than domestic work, imprisonment and absence from the State, subject to exemptions. Maternity benefit is payable during absences from the State, where it is temporary absence for the purpose of treatment during posting abroad or where employed abroad and continue to be insured.
There is an adoptive leave benefit, which operates on broadly the same terms to maternity benefits. See our section in relation to the employment related adopted leave.
Adoptive leave benefit provides for weekly benefits for those who take adoptive leave under the adoptive leave legislation.
See also section on Health and Safety in relation to pregnancy related Health and Safety leave. This arises where a woman must be granted leave for Health and Safety reasons during pregnancy or breast feeding. This would typically be related to the nature of the employer’s or his work. An analogous payment exists. The payment commences after a short period during, which the employer must pay.
Health and safety benefit arises for those who must take leave from work due to health and safety requirements. This would arise where a pregnancy risk cannot be removed from the workplace or while the employee is breast-feeding, and risk cannot be removed.
Parents who take parental leave under the Parental Leave Act may be entitled to up to 14 weeks. There is provision for limited paid leave, not to exceed three days in any 12 months.
The Act provides for force majeure leave not to exceed three days in 12 months or five days in 36 months for the purpose of dealing with family emergencies. A credit or contribution may be available during such leave, although no payment arises.
There is no Social Welfare payment in respect to parental leave. Parents may be entitled to credits in respect of periods of parental leave on their Social Insurance contributions.
The 2013 Act provided for the alignment of the minimum and maximum rates of Maternity Benefit to a standard rate of €230 per week. The change only applied to new claimants and comes into effect from 6 January 2014.
The 2013 Act provided for the alignment of the minimum and maximum rates of Adoptive Benefit to a standard rate of €230 per week.
The 2017 Act provided that the extended period of entitlement to Maternity Benefit in cases of premature births on or after 1 October 2017 would be equivalent to the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and two weeks before the expected date of confinement.
The 2017 Act provided for an extended period of entitlement to Maternity Leave, in cases of premature births on or after 1 October 2017, equivalent to the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and two weeks before the expected date of confinement. There is a parallel amendment which provides for an equivalent extended period of entitlement to Maternity Benefit.
The 2019 Act amends the definition of ‘confinement’ for Maternity Benefit purposes to bring it into line with the definition used in the Civil Registration Acts. This measure ensured that where a child is stillborn and has a birth weight of 500 grammes, the child’s mother will qualify for Maternity Benefit irrespective of the child’s gestational age. Hitherto, entitlement in such unfortunate circumstances was dependant on the child having attained a gestational age of 24 weeks.
The 2021 Act
- provides for a €5 increase in the weekly rate of maternity benefit from €245 to €250 from 3 January 2022.
- provides for a €5 increase in the weekly rate of adoptive benefit from €245 to €250 from 3 January 2022.
- provides for a €5 increase in the weekly rate of paternity benefit from €245 to €250 from 3 January 2022.
- extends the duration for which parent’s benefit is payable from five weeks to seven weeks in line with Ireland’s commitments under the EU Work Life Balance Directive. The Minister for Children, Equality, Integration, Disability and Youth will make a corresponding amendment to the associated parent’s leave provisions.
- provides for a €5 increase in the weekly rate of parent’s benefit from €245 to €250 from 3 January 2022.