Having a baby is a major life event. The following are some common questions that arise for new mothers who are leaving work to have their baby:
How much maternity leave can I entitled to take?
As an employee, you have the right to take 26 weeks’ maternity leave if you become pregnant. You also have the right to take up to 16 weeks’ additional maternity leave. You can take this time off work from full-time, casual or part-time employment. It does not matter how long you have been working for your employer.
You must take at least two weeks’ maternity leave before your baby is due, and at least four weeks after the baby is born.
Can I take time off work for medical visits?
While you are pregnant, you can take time off for medical visits connected with the pregnancy. You can take as much time off as you need for these visits, including the time for travelling to and from the appointment and for the appointment itself.
You must give your employer a note from your doctor to confirm the pregnancy, and give two weeks’ notice of your medical visits. You should show your appointment card if your employer asks to see it at any time after your first appointment.
You can also take time off for medical visits, for up to 14 weeks after the birth. You have the right to be paid while keeping these medical appointments, both before and after the birth.
Can I take time off for antenatal classes?
You can take paid time off work to attend some antenatal classes. You are entitled to attend one set of antenatal classes except for the last three classes of the set. Fathers can take paid time off to attend the last two antenatal classes immediately before the birth.
Does my employer have to pay me when I am on Maternity leave?
In general, employers do not have to pay women who are on maternity leave. You should check your contract of employment to see whether you are entitled to pay and pension contributions from your employer during your maternity leave.
What is Maternity Benefit?
If you have enough social insurance (PRSI) contributions, you are entitled to Maternity Benefit (including self-employed) for the 26 weeks’ of basic maternity leave. Maternity Benefit does not cover additional maternity leave. You should apply for Maternity Benefit at least six weeks before you plan to go on maternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed). You can apply online for Maternity Benefit at MyWelfare.ie if you have a verified MyGovID account or you can get an application form from your local Citizens Information Centre or Intreo office
How does being on Maternity Leave impact on my employment rights?
In general, you are treated as being in employment while you are on maternity leave or additional maternity leave. This means you can continue to build up your entitlement to annual leave. You are also entitled to leave for any public holidays that occur during your maternity leave (including additional maternity leave). Maternity legislation protects you from unfair dismissal. If you have a dispute with your employer over maternity rights, you can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. You should talk to your local Citizens Information Centre about the steps in making a complaint.
Can I return to my old job after maternity leave?
You are treated as being in employment while you are on maternity leave and additional maternity leave. This means that you have the right to return to work to the same job with the same contract of employment. If this is too difficult to arrange, your employer must provide suitable alternative work on terms that are not ‘less favourable’ than in your previous job. If pay or other conditions have improved while you have been on maternity leave, then you should get the improvements when you return to work. If you decide not to return to work after your period of maternity leave, you must give your employer notice in the usual way, as set out in your contract.
How much notice must I give my employer?
You must give your employer at least four weeks’ written notice that you plan to take maternity leave and must provide a medical certificate confirming your pregnancy. You must also give at least four weeks’ written notice if you want to take the 16 weeks’ additional maternity leave. You can give both these notices at the same time.
You must give your employer at least four weeks’ written notice that you intend to return to work. If you do not comply with these notice requirements, you may lose your rights.
If you need further information about any of the issues raised here or you have other questions, you can call a member of the local Citizens Information Service in West Cork on 0818 07 8390. They will be happy to assist you and if necessary arrange an appointment for you.
The offices are staffed from 10am -5pm from Monday to Thursday and on Friday from 10am-4pm. Alternatively you can email on email@example.com or log on to www.citizensinformation.ie