Female employees are entitled to a paid maternity leave of 26 consecutive weeks plus 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave after confinement. Maternity leave may in general commence or end on any day selected by the female employee but two weeks before and four weeks after the end of the expected week of confinement is compulsory. The maximum pre-natal leave is 16 weeks. If the child is born later than expected, postnatal leave may be extended by the necessary number of consecutive weeks, up to a maximum of four weeks. To avail the maternity leave, the worker has to inform the employer in writing of her intention to take leave, and produce a medical certificate or "other appropriate certificate" confirming the pregnancy and indicating the expected week of confinement. If a worker has stillbirth or miscarriage any time after the 24th week of pregnancy, she is entitled to full maternity leave (paid 26 weeks + unpaid 16 weeks).
(Maternity Protection Act 1994, amended in 2004 §8 - 16)
Rate of maternity benefit for claims starting before 6 January 2014
All women who are entitled to maternity leave, including women who are in self-employment are eligible for 80 percent of the average amount of weekly earnings, or a fixed weekly amount, or the amount of disability benefits which the woman would otherwise receive if she was entitled to the said benefit, whichever is the greater. Maternity benefits amount at least to €207.80, up to a maximum of €280.00 per week (80% of reckonable earnings of up to €350). The right to cash benefits is subject to a medical certificate stating the expected week of birth and an employer’s certificate stating that the female employee is entitled to maternity leave. Furthermore, the employee or self-employed must have paid social insurance contributions of a specified amount.
Rate of maternity benefit for claims starting on or after 6 January 2014
For new maternity benefit claims on or after 06 January 2014, a standard rate of €230 per week is paid. This means an increase of €12.20 for those receiving less than €230 per week and a reduction of €32 per week for those receiving higher payments.
(Social Welfare Consolidation Act §6(1), 47-49; http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/mb.aspx )
Free Medical Care
In Ireland any person, regardless of nationality, who is accepted by the Health Service Executive (HSE) as being ordinarily resident in Ireland is entitled to healthcare services that includes a maternity cash grant for each newborn child and maternity care and infant welfare services, including the services of a family doctor during pregnancy and family doctor services for mother and infant up to six weeks after the birth.
(ISSA country profile)