In what situation can I claim?
Maternity Benefit is paid to women who are on maternity leave from work. It is payable to women who are in employment covered by the Maternity Protection of Employees Act 1994, immediately before the first day of their maternity leave. Some employers will carry on paying their staff their wages and will have Maternity Benefit paid directly to them. Check your employment contract to see what applies to you.
The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 introduced statutory paternity leave of two weeks together with a new social welfare scheme of Paternity Benefit from 1st September 2016.
What conditions do I need to meet?
The PRSI conditions for receipt of Maternity Benefit are the same as those for Paternity Benefit. Both Maternity and Paternity Benefit are paid to people who have contributed enough through their ‘contributions’ into their Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). With some exceptions, employees, self-employed people and apprentices over 16 are insured through the payment of contributions.
If you are an employee, you must have:
- at least 39 weeks of PRSI contributions in the 12 months before the first day of maternity leave; or
- 39 weeks of PRSI since you first started work and at least 39 weeks paid in the relevant tax year or the year after that. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2016 the relevant tax year is 2014; or
- 26 weeks of PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and at least 26 weeks paid the year before.
If you are self-employed you must have paid:
- 52 weeks of PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the relevant tax year; or
- 52 weeks of PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year; or
- 52 weeks of PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year.
Other conditions also apply.
You should apply 6 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave (12 weeks before if you are self-employed). Employees should apply 4 weeks before they wish to go on paternity leave and 12 weeks before if self-employed.
What am I entitled to and how can I claim?
The benefit is paid for 26 weeks: at least two weeks must be taken before and four weeks after the date the baby is due:
Weekly rate in 2018
Rate of payment
You may get an increase in your payment for dependent children. Note that the payment of qualified adult and child increases depends on the income your spouse or partner may have. If you have paid at least one social insurance contribution in Ireland and have worked in a country governed by EU Regulations (or a country with which Ireland has a Bilateral Social Security Agreement), you may combine your insurance record with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Maternity Benefit.
You must have paid at least one social insurance contribution in Ireland within 16 weeks of the end of the week in which your baby is due.
With effect from 1 October 2017, Maternity Benefit is payable for an extra period after the end of this 26 weeks in the case of a premature birth. Maternity leave is also extended for this extra period. It corresponds to the time period between your baby’s actual birth date and the expected start date of your maternity leave and Maternity Benefit.
The Department will need further information in order to determine any entitlement to extra Maternity Benefit due to the premature nature of your baby’s birth. You will need to send the Department a letter from the hospital confirming the actual date of birth and the number of weeks’ gestation at which your baby was born, before the end of the first 26 weeks of Maternity Benefit. This information is required in order to ensure that you get your full entitlement. Adoptive Benefit may be available for those adopting a child. Conditions and amounts are similar to Maternity Benefit. Both of these benefits are taxable.
Paternity Benefit will be paid for the two weeks of paternity leave which must start within 26 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption placement.
Paternity Benefit is paid for a maximum of two weeks at a flat rate of €240 per week.
PRSI stands for Pay Related Social Insurance. To claim a contributory benefit you need to have clocked up the relevant number of contributions.
What is a benefit year and what is the relevant tax year?
The amount of some benefits depends on the contributions made in the relevant (sometimes known as governing) tax year. The relevant tax year is usually 2 years before the benefit year, so for claims made in 2018, the relevant tax year is 2016.
The year in which a benefit is claimed is called the benefit year. But it doesn’t start on 1 January; it starts on the first Monday in January.
For example, a claim for Maternity Benefit on 1 January 2017 would be based on PRSI contributions in 2014, whereas a claim after 3 January 2017would be based on PRSI contributions in 2015.
Forms you may need to fill in
Know your rights
The links below set out your rights in law, they are not European Commission sites and do not represent the view of the Commission:
- Sick pay and sick leave, the employers’ obligations - Terms of Employment (Information) Act
- Maternity Protection Act
- What you need to know about tax and Maternity Benefit
- Paternity Benefit Act
Commission publication and website:
Who do you need to contact?
Maternity Benefit Section
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Tel: (01) 471 5898
LoCall: 1890 690 690
Paternity Benefit Section
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Locall: 1890 66 22 44