With the new baby on the horizon, the last thing you need is added stress of worrying and wondering about what your maternity benefits are and how you can return back to work. Below we have answered the five most frequently asked questions about maternity leave in Ireland:
1. What am I entitled to?
- Under the Maternity Protection Acts 1994 and 2004 you are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave. You’re also entitled to an additional 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave at the end of this period. You must commence your maternity leave at least 2 weeks before the due date of your baby. You must also ensure that you have at least 4 weeks maternity leave after the birth of your baby
2. Does my employer have to pay me when I am on maternity leave?
- There is no statutory obligation requiring your employer to pay you during your period of maternity leave. You should however check the terms in your contract as this may allow for payment during maternity leave.
3. What about public holidays that occur during the period of maternity leave or additional unpaid leave?
- Under Section 21 of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997, you are entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur during the period of maternity leave or unpaid maternity leave.
4. Annual leave – I have been on maternity leave, am I entitled to annual leave?
- The period where you are on maternity leave and unpaid maternity leave is considered to be normal employment for the purposes of calculating annual leave. Thus you are entitled to accumulate annual leave while you are on maternity leave. You should consult with your employer in respect to taking this leave on your return to work.
6. Returning to work – what must I do and what am I entitled to?
- You must give your employer 4 weeks written notice of your intention to return to work after maternity leave. Section 26, of the Maternity Protection Act 1994 provides that you are entitled to return to work in the same position and with the same contract of employment. However, Section 27 of the Maternity Protection Act 1994 provides however that if it is not reasonably practicable for your employer to allow you to return to the same job, they must provide you with suitable alternative work. You are also entitled to be treated like you have been in continuous employment. For example if pay and conditions for other employees have improved whilst you are on maternity leave then you are also entitled to those improved conditions.
For more information on maternity leave in Ireland, the Citizens Information site is a great resource you can find it here