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March 21, 2023

How to Qualify for Maternity Benefit in Ireland: Eligibility, FAQs

You must have enough PRSI contributions and certified maternity leave to qualify for Maternity Benefit in Ireland. Keep reading for more information.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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Maternity Benefit is an Irish social welfare payment for expectant mothers on maternity leave.

Think of it as an allowance for new moms.

But you’ll receive this maternity allowance only if you:

  • Meet sufficient PRSI contribution conditions

  • Have certified maternity leave from work

Let’s discuss these eligibility criteria in detail.

How to Qualify for Maternity Benefit

To qualify for Maternity Benefit in Ireland, you must have:

1. Sufficient Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) Contributions

PRSI is a compulsory contribution or payment to Ireland’s Social Insurance Fund and is the primary source of social welfare payments.

Your contribution depends on your salary and occupation — aka your PRSI class.

Presently, there are 11 PRSI classes covering employees and people who are self-employed or working outside of Ireland. The A, E, H, and S classes count for Maternity Benefit.

Based on your PRSI class, you must have a certain number of paid social insurance contributions to qualify for maternity benefit.

Let’s take a look:

A. Employees

As per the Maternity Protection Act 1994, pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave in Ireland. 

Employees on maternity leave must have a minimum of 39 weeks of PRSI contributions paid for a 12-month period before the first day of their maternity leave.

Alternatively:

You must have 39 weeks of PRSI credited in the relevant tax year or the year after.

The relevant tax year is the second-last year before the one in which you claim your Maternity Benefit. For instance, if your period of maternity leave starts in 2024, the relevant tax year would be 2022, and the year after that would be 2023.

You can also qualify for Maternity Benefit if you’ve made at least 26 weeks of PRSI payments in the relevant tax year and the year before.

B. Self-employed

Self-employed people (in insurable employment) must have a minimum of 52 weeks of PRSI contributions at Class S in the relevant tax year.

Alternatively:

You must have at least 52 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the year before or after the relevant tax year.

Is your maternity leave beginning in 2024?

Then:

  • The relevant tax year is 2022.

  • The year before the relevant tax year is 2021.

  • The year after the relevant income tax year is 2023.

C. Working outside of Ireland

If you’ve been working (in insurable employment) in the UK or a country governed by European Union (EU) regulations, you must have paid a minimum of one full-rate PRSI contribution in Ireland. The contribution depends on your pay period, which can be weekly, fortnightly, and monthly.

You must also have paid your most recent PRSI contribution in Ireland to qualify for Maternity Benefit.

2. Certified Maternity Leave From Work

Here’s what you’ll need to receive a certified maternity leave:

A. Employees

You’ll need a doctor’s certificate confirming when your baby is due.

Your employers must then complete form MB2: Employer Certificate for Maternity Benefit.

You’ll also need this Maternity Benefit form certified by your employer, even if your contract of employment ends or has ended within 16 weeks before the end of the week your baby is due.

B. Self-employed

For self-employed workers, the doctor must fill out the claim form MB3: Medical Certificate for Maternity Benefit form, certifying the due date.

Got more questions?

For further information, read everything about Maternity Benefit in our in-depth guide.

2 Maternity Benefit FAQs

We’ll answer two common questions on Irish Maternity Benefit:

1. What Is the Rate of Payment for Maternity Benefit?

If you qualify for a full-rate Maternity Benefit, you’ll receive a social welfare payment of €274 a week for 26 weeks, excluding Sundays (156 days).

But here’s the thing. 

You’ll only be eligible for half-rate Maternity Benefit if you’re on other social welfare payments, like:

  • One-Parent Family Payment

  • Prisoner’s Wife’s Allowance

  • Deserted Wife’s Benefit or Allowance

  • Widow’s and Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory and Non-Contributory) Pension

  • A Surviving Civil Partner or Widow’s Widower’s Pension (under the Death Benefit Occupational Injuries Scheme)

Note: If you are providing full-time care to another individual, you may get half-rate Carer's Allowance along with your full-rate Maternity Benefit.

The rate of Maternity Benefit is calculated somewhat differently if you have adult or child dependants. The standard rate of Maternity Benefit is compared to the fixed rate of Illness Benefit that would be paid to you if you were absent from work due to illness. 

The higher of the two rates is paid to you.

2. How Long Do I Get Paid Maternity Benefit?

For full-term pregnancies, Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks or 156 days (Sundays aren’t counted).

Here’s how it works in other cases:

  • Premature birth: For premature birth, you’ll get Maternity Benefit for an extra period, equalling the number of days between the actual date of birth and the expected date of birth of your baby. You’ll need a doctor’s certificate or hospital letter confirming the premature birth.

  • Stillbirth or miscarriage: You’ll receive 26 weeks of Maternity Benefit if you have a miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy or stillbirth where the birth weight is at least 500 grams.

    But first, you need to send a letter from your doctor along with the Maternity Benefit application form, clearly mentioning the expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the number of weeks of pregnancy.

  • Hospitalisation after birth: In the case of hospitalisation after birth, you can apply to postpone the last 12 weeks of Maternity Benefit for a maximum of six months. To qualify for this, you must have at least 14 weeks of Maternity Benefit paid and be on 4 weeks of maternity leave before your baby’s birth. You’ll continue receiving the payment until your entitlement to Maternity Benefit finishes.

Find out the exact steps to Apply for Maternity Benefit in Ireland

Give Your Employees Additional Maternity Coverage with Kota

If you’re an employer, you have to manage a host of other employee benefits in addition to their pay — like health insurance and retirement contributions.

Thankfully with Kota, you can automate employee health insurance and retirement benefits.

Allow employees to choose packages with maternity coverage or even add extra perks, like fertility add-ons.

Get started with Kota and help your employees take ownership of their health coverage.


Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Kota. Whether you're a Kota customer, a Kota user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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