I thank Deputy Kerrane for raising this matter. Maternity benefit is a statutory payment made for 26 weeks to employed and self-employed women who satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions. The fundamental qualification criteria for maternity benefit are that a woman must be in insurable employment and entitled to statutory maternity leave or be in insurable self-employment. The applicant must also satisfy certain PRSI contribution conditions.
EU social security co-ordination regulations include provisions to cater for maternity benefit in situations where workers have moved between EU member states. Similarly, the convention on social security between Ireland and the UK, put in place in response to the UK leaving the EU, provides for situations where workers have moved between Ireland and the UK. Where an individual has insufficient social insurance contributions to qualify for maternity benefit, she may be eligible for another social welfare payment provided she meets the relevant conditions. For example, the main purpose of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other welfare schemes. There are no plans to introduce a partial payment of maternity benefit for those who do not satisfy the requisite PRSI contribution conditions.