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What Maternity Benefit is

If you are eligible for full-rate Maternity Benefit, you will get €245 a week for 26 weeks (156 days). If you are already on certain social welfare payments, you may get half-rate Maternity Benefit.

Maternity Benefit is a payment for employed and self-employed people who are:

  • on maternity leave from work
  • covered by social insurance (PRSI)

You must start your maternity leave before your baby is due.

  • you must start your leave at least two weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due
  • you must not start your leave earlier than sixteen weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due
  • at a minimum, you must begin your maternity leave on the Monday before the week your baby is due. For example, if your due date is Wednesday 10 October 2018, the latest date for the start of your maternity leave is Monday 1 October 2018
  • if your contract of employment ends within 16 weeks of the end of the week in which your baby is due, you will be paid Maternity Benefit from the day after the date on your P45 (the form you get from your employer when you finish working for them)

When your paid Maternity Benefit ends, it is possible to take 16 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. You will not be paid for this, but you will get a social insurance (PRSI) credit for each week of unpaid leave you take.

How to qualify

To qualify for Maternity Benefit, you must pay social insurance (PRSI) contributions at Class A, E, H or S (self-employed).

If you are a member of the Defence Forces and you pay social insurance (PRSI) at Class H, you are insured for Maternity Benefit, but it is not payable while you are in service.

You must also have a certificate that confirms when your baby is due.

Certification if you are an employee

Your employer must certify your maternity leave.

Ask your doctor for a certificate that confirms when your baby is due. Give this certificate to your employer. Your employer will fill in an MB2: Employer Certificate for Maternity Benefit and give it to you. When you apply for Maternity Benefit, include the MB2 certificate from your employer.

Employer Certificate for Maternity Benefit

If your employee wishes to take the minimum 2 week period of maternity leave prior to the birth of her baby, she should commence her maternity leave on the Monday prior to the week in which her baby is due.

Download

Certification if you are self-employed

Your doctor must certify your maternity leave.

Ask your doctor to fill in an MB3: Medical Certificate for Maternity Benefit form and give it to you. When you apply for Maternity Benefit, include the MB3 form from your doctor.

Medical Certificate for Maternity Benefit

If you are self-employed or not currently employed, your doctor must complete this form after your 24th week of pregnancy.

Download

Rate of payment

Maternity Benefit is €245 a week for 26 weeks, or 156 days.

If you pay tax, you will have to pay tax on Maternity Benefit. You will not have to pay the Universal Social Charge (USC) or social insurance (PRSI).

Increasing payments

If you have dependants, you may be able to get a higher rate of Maternity Benefit. When you apply, 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.

Maternity Benefit is paid directly into your bank or building society current or deposit account. It cannot be paid into a mortgage account.

Your employer may continue to pay you in full when you are on maternity leave. They may require you to have your Maternity Benefit paid to them, and you can choose to do this.

Premature Births

If your baby is born early (prematurely), you may extend your maternity leave and Maternity Benefit. The length of the extension will match the time between your baby’s date of birth and when you planned to start your maternity leave and Maternity Benefit.

For example, if your baby is born ten days before you planned to take maternity leave, your leave and Maternity Benefit will be extended by ten days.

To apply for Maternity Benefit when your baby is premature, send a letter from your doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form confirming:

  • the date of birth; and
  • the number of weeks you were pregnant when your baby was born

Important: Please send in your application before the end of your first 26 weeks of Maternity Benefit.

Stillbirths and Miscarriages

Dealing with the loss of a baby can be a difficult and devastating time for parents and families. If you experience a stillbirth or miscarriage any time after the 24th week of pregnancy (that is, from the beginning of the 25th week), you are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave if you are covered by social insurance (PRSI).

To apply for Maternity Benefit after a stillbirth or miscarriage, you send a letter from your doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form to the Maternity Benefit Section at the department.

In the letter, your doctor should include:

  • the expected date of birth
  • the actual date of birth or miscarriage
  • the number of weeks of pregnancy

If your baby is in hospital

It can be difficult if your baby is in hospital. If it is helpful to you, you can choose to postpone the last 12 weeks of your maternity leave and your Maternity Benefit. If you qualify, you will be able to postpone your Maternity Benefit for up to 6 months.

To qualify, you must have:

  • received your Maternity Benefit for at least 14 weeks
  • taken at least four weeks of maternity leave after your baby was born

To postpone your Maternity Benefit, write to:

Maternity Benefit Section
Address: Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, McCarter’s Road, Buncrana, Donegal, F93 CH79
Phone: (01)47158981890690690

To resume your Maternity Benefit payment after your baby has been discharged from hospital, write to the Maternity Benefit Section.

Please include:

  • a letter or certificate confirming that your baby has been discharged from hospital
  • a letter or certificate from your employer stating that you are entitled to resume your postponed maternity leave

Apply

The quickest way to apply for Maternity Benefit is through MyWelfare.ie. You must have a verified MyGovID to use this service.

If you are an employee, you should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before you plan to go on maternity leave. If you are self-employed, you should apply at least 12 weeks before you plan to go on maternity leave.

You can also apply for Maternity Benefit using the application form at the bottom of this page.

Please send your completed application form and supporting documents by Freepost to:

Maternity Benefit Section
Address: Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, McCarter’s Road, Buncrana, Donegal, F93 CH79
Phone: (01)47158981890690690

Maternity Benefit Application Form

You will be paid Maternity Benefit for 26 weeks (156 days). You must start your maternity leave before your baby is due.

Download

For more information on social insurance (PRSI) requirements for Maternity Benefit, please visit MyWelfare.ie/Maternity.

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