Under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 legislation, employees in Ireland are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave in Ireland if they become pregnant.
This right is protected regardless of the tenure of employment, and is applicable to full-time, part-time, and casual employment.
When can I take my maternity leave?
You must take at least two weeks of maternity leave prior to the end of the week that your baby is due to be born. At the very latest, you should take your maternity leave on the Monday before the week of your due date.
So, for example, if your baby is due to be born on Thursday, 17th November, your maternity leave should start on Monday, 7th November.
Will I still be paid by my employer during my maternity leave?
In general, employers do not have to pay employees on maternity leave.
However, it is worth checking your contract of employment to see if you are entitled to any pay and/or pension contributions during your maternity leave.
Provided that you have enough PRSI contributions, you may be entitled to maternity benefit payments from the Department of Social Protection.
Can my employer let me go during my maternity leave?
No. Existing maternity legislation protects you from unfair dismissal while on leave from work for this reason.
Can I take any additional maternity leave?
In addition to the basic 26 weeks, you can avail of a further 16 weeks of maternity leave once the initial 26 weeks has ended. These additional 16 weeks must begin immediately after the 26 weeks, at which point you will no longer be entitled to maternity benefit.
If you choose to take the additional 16 weeks, your employer must also be notified of this decision in writing at least 4 weeks prior to doing so.
How do I apply for maternity leave/benefits?
When seeking to apply for maternity leave from your job, you must do so in writing at least 4 weeks prior to the proposed start date. You must also provide your employer with a medical certificate confirming your pregnancy.
For maternity benefits, you must apply to the Maternity Benefit Section of the Department of Social Protection at least six weeks prior to your leave from work.
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