Maternity Benefit is paid by the Department of Social Protection to women
who have a certain number of paid PRSI contributions on their social insurance
record and who are in insurable employment up to the first day of their
The PRSI contributions can be from both employment or self-employment - the
PRSI classes that count for Maternity Benefit are A, E, H and S
(self-employed). Maternity Benefit is not payable to serving members of the
Defence Forces who pay PRSI at Class H.
If you are employed you must have:
- At least 39 weeks PRSI paid in the 12-month period before the first day
of your maternity leave
- At least 39 weeks PRSI paid since first starting work and at
least 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year or in the tax
year immediately following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are
going on maternity leave in 2016, the relevant tax year is 2014 and the
year following that is 2015.
- At least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and at
least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant
tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2016, the
relevant tax year is 2014 and the year before that is 2013.
If you do not meet these PRSI conditions and you were self-employed before
starting work as an employee, you can use your Class S contributions to qualify
for Maternity Benefit - see PRSI conditions for self-employed people below.
If you are self-employed you must be
in insurable employment and have:
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the relevant tax year. For
example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2016, the relevant tax year
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately
before the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity
leave in 2016, the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year is
- 52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately
following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity
leave in 2016, the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year is
PRSI Class S contributions for a particular year are not awarded until you
have paid tax due for that year. Your income tax and PRSI liabilities
(primarily for the relevant tax year) must be paid to qualify for Maternity
If you do not meet these PRSI conditions and you were in insurable
employment before becoming self-employed, you can use your PRSI contributions
(Class A, E and H) in that employment to qualify for Maternity Benefit – see
PRSI conditions for employed people above.
Insurance from employment in another country
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.
More information is available in our document about combining
your social insurance contributions from abroad.
If you are already getting a social welfare payment
Half-rate Maternity Benefit may be payable if you are getting any one of the
If you are providing full-time care to another person, you may qualify for
Carer's Allowance with your Maternity Benefit.
Under the Maternity Protection Act 1994, a woman who qualifies for Maternity
Benefit is entitled to claim Family
Income Supplement (FIS) (provided she meets the conditions of the FIS
payment and has a family – a pregnant woman who has no other children does
not qualify for FIS until the birth of the baby).
All employees must have their leave certified by their employer. However, if
your contract of employment ends within 16 weeks of the end of the week in
which your baby is due and you satisfy the social insurance (PRSI) conditions,
Maternity Benefit is payable from the day after the date on your P45.
Duration of Maternity Benefit
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 2 weeks and not more than 16 weeks 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 14 October 2015, the latest date for
the start of your maternity leave is Monday 5 October 2015.
You can take a further 16 weeks 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).
If your baby is born prematurely (before your maternity leave is due to
begin), you should send a letter from your doctor to the Maternity Benefit
section of the Department of Social Protection. The letter should confirm the
date the baby was born and that the baby was born prematurely.
Stillbirths and miscarriages
If you have a stillbirth
or miscarriage any time after the 24th week of pregnancy (i.e from the
beginning of the 25th week) you are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave. You
are also entitled to 26 weeks Maternity Benefit provided you satisfy the social
insurance (PRSI) requirements.
To apply for Maternity Benefit following a stillbirth, you need to send a
letter from your doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form, confirming
the expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the number of weeks of
Hospitalisation of baby
You can postpone the last 12 weeks of your maternity leave and Maternity
Benefit if your child is in hospital. Your Maternity Benefit must have been in
payment for at least 14 weeks and you must have taken at least 4 weeks
maternity leave after your baby was born. You can postpone your Maternity
Benefit for up to 6 months.
You should apply in writing to the Maternity Benefit Section if you want to
have your Maternity Benefit postponed. Your payment will resume when you send
in written confirmation to the Maternity Benefit Section that your child has
been discharged from hospital and your employer certifies that you are entitled
to resume your postponed maternity leave.
Your payment will continue until your entitlement to Maternity Benefit
How the payment is made
Maternity Benefit is paid directly into your bank or building society
account (a current or deposit account, not a mortgage account) or you can
choose to have it paid directly into your employer's bank account. Payment is
made each week in advance.
Disqualification from Maternity Benefit
You can do voluntary work, public representative work (for example, a
councillor or TD) and courses of education while you are getting Maternity
Benefit. However, your payment will be stopped if you engage in insurable
If you intend to return to employment earlier than you stated on your
application form, you must notify the Maternity Benefit Section at least
2 weeks before your new 'return to work date'.
You will not be paid Maternity Benefit for any period you spend outside the
EU. If you are an EU citizen, you can get Maternity Benefit for any period of
your maternity leave spent in another EU country. You cannot receive payment
for any period of time spent outside the EU. If you are not an EU citizen you
will only get Maternity Benefit for periods you spend in the Republic of
If you do not apply for Maternity Benefit within 6 months of the birth of
your baby, you may lose benefit.
For new Maternity Benefit claims from 6 January
2014 a standard rate of €230.00 per week is
Rate of payment for claims beginning on or after 6 January
Payments for dependants
If you have dependants your rate of Maternity
Benefit (excluding increases for dependants) is compared to the rate of Illness
Benefit (including increases for dependants) that would be paid to you if you
were absent from work through illness. The higher of the two rates is paid to
you. Although the Illness Benefit rate begins from a lower personal base amount
(€188 is the maximum Illness Benefit personal rate), it also takes into
account extra payments for your family, and this is why, depending on the
circumstances of your spouse, civil partner or cohabitant and how many children
you have, the rate paid to you may be greater than the rate to which you would
have otherwise been entitled.
Example (2016 rates): Mary is
entitled to the standard Maternity Benefit rate of €230. Her partner is
unemployed and signing on for unemployment
credits. They have two children. If she got Illness Benefit
she would get €372.40 (this is the personal rate of Illness Benefit + an
Increase for a Qualified Adult + Increases for 2 Qualified Children). She
cannot get less Maternity Benefit than she would get if ill and getting Illness
Benefit. For this reason, she will get Maternity Benefit of
If your adult dependent is getting a social
welfare payment you will not get an Increase
for a Qualified Adult (IQA) but you may get a half-rate Increase
for a Qualified Child (IQC).
You will qualify for a full-rate IQA and a
full-rate IQC, if your adult dependent is unemployed and signing on for credits
or is earning under €100.01 per week.
If your adult dependent is earning between
€100.01 and €310 per week you will get a tapered rate of IQA and a
full-rate IQC. If your adult dependent is earning between €310.01 and €400
per week you will not get an IQA but you will get half rate IQC. If your adult
dependent earns over €400 per week you will not get an IQA or IQC.