Life

Know your rights: All you need to know about maternity leave

May 1st, 2022 11:50 AM

By Southern Star Team

You are treated as being in employment while you are on maternity leave and additional maternity leave. This means that you have the right to return to work to the same job with the same contract of employment. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Q: I have recently returned to Ireland from working in another EU country. Will I qualify for maternity benefit?

If you were previously insurably employed in a country covered by EU Regulations and you have paid at least one full-rate PRSI contribution in Ireland, you may combine your insurance record in that country with your Irish PRSI contributions to help you qualify for Maternity Benefit. You must be in insurable employment in Ireland currently and have paid your most recent PRSI contribution in Ireland

How long is maternity benefit paid?

Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks (156 days). Maternity Benefit is a 6-day week payment which covers Monday to Saturday. Sunday is not treated as a day of entitlement to Maternity Benefit.

At least two weeks and not more than 16 weeks of leave must be taken before the end of the week in which your baby is due. To ensure you take the minimum 2-week period of maternity leave before the birth of your baby, you must start your maternity leave on the Monday before the week in which your baby is due. For example, if your due date is Wednesday 12 October 2022, the latest date for the start of your maternity leave is Monday 3 October 2022.

What is the situation if I take additional unpaid maternity leave?

You can take a further 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave which must be taken immediately after the end of your 26 weeks’ paid Maternity Benefit. This period is not covered by Maternity Benefit but you will be entitled to a credited social insurance contribution for each week of unpaid leave you take (up to the maximum of 16).

Must I give notice to my employer about returning  to work?

You must give your employer at least 4 weeks’ written notice that you intend to return to work. If you do not comply with these notice requirements, you may lose your rights.

Can I return to my old job after maternity leave?

You are treated as being in employment while you are on maternity leave and additional maternity leave. This means that you have the right to return to work to the same job with the same contract of employment. If this is too difficult to arrange, your employer must provide suitable alternative work on terms that are not ‘less favourable’ than in your previous job.

If pay or other conditions have improved while you have been on maternity leave, then you should get the improvements when you return to work. If you decide not to return to work after your period of maternity leave, you must give your employer notice in the usual way, as set out in your contract.

Is there any payment for fathers?

Paternity Benefit is a payment for employed and self-employed people who are on paternity leave from work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). It is paid for 2 weeks and is available for any child born or adopted on or after 1st September 2016. You can start paternity leave at any time within the first six months following the birth or adoption placement.

If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you. The West Cork helpline is  0818 07 8390. Offices are staffed from 10am -5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am -4pm. Alternatively you can email on [email protected] or see citizensinformation.ie

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