Know Your Rights: Maternity leave

Question

I recently started working in a new job on a part-time basis. I have just learned that I am pregnant – will I be entitled to maternity leave?

Answer (January 2018)

If you are pregnant while in employment, you are entitled to take maternity leave. The entitlement to a basic period of maternity leave from employment applies to all female employees (including casual workers), regardless of how long you have been working for the organisation or the number of hours you work per week. You are also entitled to additional unpaid maternity leave. The Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 provide your statutory minimum entitlements in relation to maternity at work, including maternity leave.

You are entitled to 26 weeks’ maternity leave together with 16 weeks additional unpaid maternity leave, which begins immediately after the end of maternity leave.

Your entitlement to pay and superannuation (pension payments) during maternity leave depends on the terms of your contract of employment. Employers are not obliged to pay women who are on maternity leave. You may qualify for Maternity Benefit from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) if you have enough PRSI contributions. However an employee’s contract could provide for additional rights to payment during the leave period, so that, for example, the employee could receive full pay less the amount of Maternity Benefit payable.

If you have a dispute with your employer about maternity leave or if you have been dismissed due to a matter connected with your pregnancy or for claiming your rights under maternity leave legislation, you may make a complaint within six months of the dispute or complaint occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further six months, but only where there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.

You should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before your baby’s due date. Apply to the Maternity Benefit Section of the DEASP.