Maternity benefit is an income maintenance payment awarded by this Department to eligible women for a 26-week period on foot of a confinement. Entitlement to this benefit for employees is contingent on entitlement to statutory maternity leave.
Under the provisions of social welfare legislation, the 26-week period of core statutory maternity leave attracts a payment from this Department — subject to certain social insurance contribution conditions being fulfilled. Maternity leave legislation also provides an option for a woman to take an additional 16-week period of maternity leave that does not attract a benefit payment.
The right to maternity leave is established under the Maternity Protection Act, 1994, legislation which is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality. Any changes to current maternity leave provisions are a matter for that Minister to consider in the first instance — and entitlement to maternity benefit would normally follow suit and would have to be considered by Government in a Budgetary context.