What are my maternity rights?


Maternity Pay and Leave

When it comes to maternity leave, your entitlements as a mum today are better than ever before. And that means it’s easier to spend more stress-free time preparing for and bonding with your little one.

Alongside the excitement of having a new baby, it’s important that you feel financially secure so that you can focus all of your energies into looking after the new arrival. It can be a confusing topic, so try and read up on your maternity rights before the time comes so you know everything is in place.

In addition to understanding all of your maternity rights, it’s also perfectly natural to feel nervous and a little unsettled about taking maternity leave from your job. For some mums-to-be, leaving the office on your last day of work (hopefully armed with plenty of leaving presents!) feels fantastic, whereas for others, being away from work is a big step. There is no rule book for how you might feel, and there is no right or wrong answer: however you are feeling is perfectly natural!

To help the process run a little smoother, it’s important you understand exactly what you’re entitled to be paid during your maternity leave. In this guide we will run through your maternity rights.

What is maternity leave?

If you’re a pregnant mum with a job (an employee), no matter how long you have been with the company or how many hours you are contracted to work, you have the right to 26 weeks maternity leave (time away from work to focus on being a mum). An additional 16 weeks of maternity leave (unpaid) is available to you if you choose to stay at home a little longer with your new born. So, if you are new to a position and feel nervous about taking maternity leave so soon after starting a new job, don’t, you’re legally entitled to take the time you need to look after your little one.

How long is maternity leave and when does it start?

Under the Maternity Protection Amendment 2004, you must take your maternity leave at least 2 weeks before the end of the week of your expected due date. This will give you some time to relax and start to make final preparations before your baby arrives. Remember, you are legally obliged to give your employer at least 4 weeks notice as to when you plan to take your maternity leave.

Why it's good to use your maternity leave

Maternity leave is an important time for new mums. It gives you the chance to recover from your pregnancy and childbirth. You will need it! It also gives you invaluable time to bond with your baby and learn how to look after them in a safe and loving environment. The first few days, weeks and months you spend with your little one are truly precious, so take full advantage of the maternity leave you’re entitled to.

How does maternity leave affect your other employment benefits?

When you are on maternity leave you are still eligible for any benefits you'd usually get if you were working as normal. This includes things like pension contributions and private healthcare. Even your holiday time should be counted up as normal. So don’t be distracted from spending time with your baby worrying about what you might be losing out on. Just enjoy the time you have with your little one.

Got a question about your maternity rights?

Remember, if you'd like to know more about your maternity rights or how much leave you are entitled to, you should either speak with your employer or visit www.citizensinformation.ie


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  • 1-to-1 support from our dedicated Careline team, 8.30am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

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