The Department of Justice and Equality has policy responsibility for maternity leave which is provided for in the 1994 and 2004 Maternity Acts. Any decision to extend the duration of maternity leave, including that for families with multiple births, would be the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality. My Department has responsibility for the payment of maternity benefit which is provided for in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended).
Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks at a rate of €245 per week. There is a provision of €256m for maternity benefit for 2019. CSO data from 2016 indicates that there were 1,215 instances of multiple births in Ireland, representing 1.9% of all births. Based on an apportionment of 1.9% of maternity benefit recipients The table below estimates the additional cost of increasing the duration of maternity benefit by 4 weeks to 30 weeks, and by 8 weeks to 34 weeks where there are multiple births.
Estimated annual cost of increasing the duration of maternity benefit in respect of multiple births
No. of weeks
Estimated additional full year cost
It should also be noted that there are additional costs to the Exchequer as these estimates do not include the costs of salary top-ups for public/civil servants which would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Decisions around the extension of this benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.