Pregnant employees are entitled to take 26 consecutive weeks of standard maternity leave, regardless of how long they have worked for their organisation or the number of hours worked per week.
The employee should inform her employer in writing of her intention to take the leave as early as reasonably practicable, but no later than four weeks before the leave is due to begin. She must also provide a medical cert specifying the expected week of the birth of her child.
At least two weeks of leave must be taken before the end of the week of the baby’s expected birth and at least four weeks after.
Employers are not legally obliged to pay women on maternity leave, but payment may be agreed in the contract of employment. Otherwise, the employee may qualify for maternity benefit if she has sufficient PRSI contributions.
Pregnant employees may also take a further 16 consecutive weeks of unpaid maternity leave, starting straight after the end of the initial 26 weeks. This is not covered by maternity benefit and employers are not obliged to make any payment during this time, unless this has been agreed in the employee’s contract.
Pregnant employees and employees who have recently given birth are entitled to time off work, without any loss of pay, to attend antenatal and post-natal care. Employers must, however, be informed in writing of the time and date of any appointments at least two weeks in advance.
Women who have taken maternity leave are entitled to return to work to the same job with the same employment contract. If it’s not reasonable for the employee to return to the same job, the employer should provide her with suitable alternative work.
The employee must give her employer at least four weeks’ written notice of her intention to return to work.
For more information on various maternity leave entitlements and rules: