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April 13, 2023

What is the Irish Paternity Benefit? Eligibility, Pay, Enrollment

Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a public health service payment for employed or self-employed fathers. Learn about its payment rates, how to apply, and more.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a social welfare payment for individuals on paternity leave. 

It provides monetary support to ease the burden of taking unpaid leave while caring for your newborn child.

But who qualifies for Paternity Benefit? How much does it pay?

And how do you apply for Paternity Benefit?  

Let’s find out. 

What Is Paternity Benefit?

Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a public health service payment for people on paternity leave, per the Paternity Leave And Benefit Act 2016. 

It helps fathers care for their newborns, especially when they take unpaid paternity leave

You can receive this employee benefit if you’re employed or self-employed AND meet the minimum number of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. (More on this soon.)

When Should You Apply for Paternity Benefit?

Generally, you must apply for Paternity Benefit by four weeks before your paternity leave begins. 

If you’re self-employed, you must apply at least 12 weeks before your paternity leave.

Who Can Qualify for Paternity Benefit?

To claim Paternity Benefit, you must be a relevant parent, meaning you are one of the following:

  • The birth father of the child

  • The spouse, cohabitant, or civil partner of the mother of the child

  • The parent of a donor-conceived child

  • The parent who isn’t the qualifying adopter of the child

You’re entitled to paternity leave regardless of gender — as long as you’re the partner or cohabitant of the mother or primary parent. 

But you must also fulfil these conditions:

1. You’re on Certified Paternity Leave from Work

To receive certified paternity leave from work: 

  • If you’re an employed person, provide your employer with a doctor’s certificate confirming your baby’s expected due date or actual birth date. Your employer must then complete a PB2: Employer Certificate for Paternity Benefit Form to confirm your entitlement to paternity leave.

  • If you are self-employed, a doctor must complete a PB3: Medical Certificate for Paternity Benefit form to certify your baby’s due date or birth date.

Learn more about these Paternity Benefit Forms.

What about in the case of adoptions?

Give your employer a certificate of placement that confirms you adopted the child. 

For intercountry adoption, submit a declaration of eligibility and suitability in relation to the child, plus any additional particulars in writing of the actual or expected placement date.

Submit these documents and forms when applying for Paternity Benefit.

When should I start my paternity leave?

Start your paternity leave any time during the first 26 weeks after the birth or adoption of your baby in line with your Paternity Benefit application.  

2. You’re Covered by Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI)

To qualify for Paternity Benefit, you must have a certain number of PRSI contributions on your social record and come under one of these PRSI contribution classes:

  • Class A: Individuals employed in industrial, commercial, and service sectors earning €38 or more weekly. This class also includes public and civil servants employed from 6 April 1995.

  • Class E: Ministers of religion employed by the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

  • Class H: Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and enlisted personnel of the Defence Forces. However, members of Defence Forces paying PRSI Class H contributions cannot avail Paternity Benefit while in service.

  • Class S: Self-employed people, certain company directors, people doing business independently, and people with investment and rental income.

How Many PRSI Contributions Do You Need?

If you’re employed, you must have either:

  • At least 39 weeks of paid PRSI contributions in the 12-month period before the first day of your paternity leave. OR

  • At least 39 weeks of PRSI paid since first starting work. Plus, at least 39 weeks of PRSI contributions credited or paid in the relevant tax year (two years before the benefit year) or the tax year after the relevant tax year. OR

  • At least 26 weeks each of PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year and the tax year before the relevant tax year.

    For instance, if you’re going on paternity leave in 2024, 2022 is the relevant tax year, 2023 is the year after the relevant tax year, and 2021 is the year before the relevant tax year.

If you’re self-employed, you should have either:

  • At least 52 weeks of paid PRSI contributions at Class S in the relevant tax year. OR

  • At least 52 weeks of paid PRSI contributions at Class S in the tax year before or after the relevant tax year.

For example, if you’re going on paternity leave in 2024, 2022 is the relevant tax year — and you can qualify with 52 weeks of paid contributions in either 2021 or 2023.

These contribution conditions are the same as those for Maternity Benefit. 

Curious about maternity leave and Maternity Benefit?

Read our in-depth guide on the Irish Maternity Benefit.

PRSI Class S contributions (for a particular year) aren’t awarded until you’ve paid the total tax or income tax due for that year. You must pay your PRSI contributions and tax to qualify for Paternity Benefit.

Let’s now explore the rate of payment for Paternity Benefit.

Paternity Benefit Payment

If you’re eligible for full-rate Paternity Benefit, you’ll receive €274 a week (in 2024) for two weeks. It’s the same amount as the weekly rate of Maternity Benefit payments.

From 2024, this rate is set to increase by €12 to become €274 a week.

However, you’ll be entitled to half-rate Paternity Benefit if you’re on certain social welfare payments like the Widow’s and Surviving Civil Partner’s Pensions.

What’s more?

You can qualify for different rates of payments based on any dependants. 

Find out more information on Paternity Benefit Payments

The amount is transferred directly into your personal bank account, building society account, or employer’s bank account.

Some employers may offer paid paternity leave in return for having the Paternity Benefit paid directly to them. Check your employment contract to know what applies to you.

As an employer, wouldn’t you want your employees to be happy and healthy wherever they are?

That’s where Kota can help. 

Kota lets you provide local and international health insurance to your employees effortlessly. It supports coverage in 30+ countries, so your employees are always insured. 

Moreover, employees can choose the health packages they need, including add-ons like sports extra and travel extra

When Is Paternity Benefit Paid?

Paternity Benefit is paid for the two weeks when you’re on paternity leave. However, this period can be preponed or postponed in certain situations like:

A. Premature Births

If your child is born prematurely (before the start of your paternity leave and benefit begin), you can change the leave and benefit dates. 

You’ll have to send a letter from your employer confirming the new leave and benefit dates, plus a letter from the hospital confirming your child’s date of birth. 

Submit these documents to the Paternity Benefit section of Ireland’s Department of Social Protection (DSP). 

Are you self-employed?

Then, you can write a letter confirming your new leave and benefit dates and submit it with a doctor’s or hospital’s letter confirming the child’s birth date to the Paternity Benefit Section.

B. Stillbirths and Miscarriages

You’re entitled to paternity leave and benefit if there’s a stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy (from the start of the 25th week).

To claim the benefit, you need to get a letter from your doctor confirming: 

  • The expected date of birth of the baby

  • The actual date of birth of the baby and 

  • The number of weeks of pregnancy  

You must then submit the letter with the Paternity Benefit application form once your leave is certified by your employer (or self-certified if you’re self-employed).

C. Hospitalisation of the Baby

If the event of hospitalisation of your child, you can postpone your paternity leave and benefit (or whatever portion is remaining) for up to six months. 

If you’re an employee, you must submit a letter from your employer confirming the new leave dates to the Paternity Benefit Section of the Department of Social Protection. Similarly, if you’re self-employed, you must submit a letter stating your new leave dates and a hospital letter confirming your child’s date of birth.

Taxation of Paternity Benefit

Like any other social welfare payment, Paternity Benefit is taxable. However, it isn’t subject to PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC).

What’s the taxation rate?

It depends on personal circumstances plus the tax reliefs and tax credits you’re claiming.

The Department of Social Protection pays Paternity Benefit without any tax deduction. However, it notifies Revenue of the amount of Paternity Benefit applicable for tax purposes.

If you’re an employee and pay taxes through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system, here’s what can happen:

  • Your employer can calculate and deduct Income Tax, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI), and Universal Social Charge (USC) from each weekly payslip. Your employer must report these deductions to Revenue on or before the pay date.

  • Revenue will automatically reduce your annual tax credits and rate bands to account for the tax payable on your Paternity Benefit.

Tax credits are a form of government relief that reduces your payable tax. And a rate band is the amount of income that will be taxed at a particular percentage (either 20% or 40%).

But here’s the thing:

If you choose to have your Paternity Benefit paid to your employer, you may be entitled to a PRSI refund. Your employer must complete the Employee Refund of PRSI Contributions Application Form (PRSI REF1).

If you’re self-employed and pay taxes through the self-assessment system, you must include details of all Paternity Benefit payments received in your annual tax return. 

How to Apply for Paternity Benefit

You can either: 

Check out our walkthrough guide on the Paternity Benefit Application Process.

If your Paternity Benefit claim is declined, write an appeal to [email protected] or mail it to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. You must appeal within 21 days of the original decision.

Having doubts about taking paternity leave? 

Common Concerns About Taking Paternity Leave

According to a special report published by the Irish Examiner in 2020, nearly 50% of fathers entitled to paternity leave and Paternity Benefit don’t claim it. 

Why are fathers reluctant to take paternity leave?

It may be because they are worried about losing their jobs, especially in sectors with high employee turnover rates. It also comes down to the work culture of companies, where it’s either considered acceptable to take paternity leave or not. 

However, taking Paternity Benefit can help support your family. You’re also awarded PRSI credits for each week of Paternity Benefit claimed. 

What’s more?

Paternity leave is protective leave.

You’re protected from penalisation during the entire period of paternity leave. That means it’s not excusable for your company to fire or suspend you for taking your period of absence.

Other Entitlements You Can Receive as a Parent

These are some other entitlements you can receive as a father:

1. Parent’s Leave

Parents of children under two years (or of adoptive children under two years of placement) can take seven weeks of Parent’s Leave. This will increase to nine weeks in August 2024.

The leave must be taken in one period of seven consecutive weeks or separate periods of full weeks.

You can also claim Parent’s Benefit while on this leave if you have enough paid PRSI contributions. It’s paid at a weekly rate of €274.

2. Parental Leave

Parents (both) or guardians of children under 12 years can take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to look after their children. The leave is applicable for each child before their 12th birthday. 

To avail parental leave, you must have worked for your employer for a year. Plus, the application must be confirmed and signed at least four weeks before your leave begins.

It can be taken as one continuous period of leave or two separate blows of at least six weeks (with a gap of 10 weeks between the two parental leave periods). 

You can also use your parental leave to ask your employer for a more flexible working arrangement — e.g. taking one or two days off per week — though they are not required to agree to it.

What if you have multiple eligible children?

The leave must be limited to 26 weeks within 12 months. However, you can take more than 26 weeks a year if you have twins or triplets.

Lastly, parents who take parental leave can receive a PRSI Credit for each week of leave taken.

3. Adoptive Benefit

Adoptive Benefit is a payment offered to adoptive parents who are:

  • On certified adoptive leave from work.

  • Covered by social insurance and meet the required PRSI contributions

You must submit a certificate of placement or declaration of suitability to your employer or the Adoptive Benefit section of the DSP if you’re self-employed.

You can get up to 24 weeks of Adoptive Benefit if your adoptive leave begins on the date of adoption. It’s paid at a weekly rate of €274.The catch?

Only one parent in a couple can claim Adoptive Benefit. The other parent can make a claim for Paternity Benefit. Moreover, you must apply for it at least six weeks (12 weeks if you are self-employed) before the start of your adoptive leave. 

3 FAQs About Paternity Benefit  

Have more queries? 

We’ll answer some of the most common questions about Paternity Benefit:

1. Can I Change the Start Date of my Paternity Leave and Benefit?

You can change the start date or commencement of paternity leave and benefit if there’s a change in your child’s birth date or day of placement. The postponement or change of your claim dates for premature births, miscarriages and stillbirths, or hospitalisations. You can even do this if you fall sick before your leave starts. 

2. Can I Take Paid Leave for Antenatal Classes?

You can take paid leave from work to attend the two final antenatal classes before the birth of your child.

But here’s the deal:

To be entitled to the leave, you must notify your employer in writing at least two weeks before the antenatal classes begin. The notification should outline the dates and times of the classes.

3. Can I Take Leave on the Day My Wife Is in Labour?

Yes, though, it won’t be counted as a part of your paternity leave, which can only start after the birth of your child. You might be able to take the leave as Force Majeure leave or annual leave.

Upgrade Your Employees’ Benefits with Kota

Paternity Benefit is a supportive aid for many fathers on paternity leave in Ireland. 

Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the benefits they’re entitled to or the rights that protect them while they take it. 

But not everything needs to be that way.

Although employers may be unable to manage Paternity Benefit for their employees, you can put their minds at ease by leaving health insurance and retirement benefits to Kota

Why use Kota?

  • Kota offers customised packages to suit local needs. 

  • You give your employees complete ownership over their health coverage and savings choices. 

  • Employees can even add extras to their health insurance plans to adapt for newborns or existing children.

It’s the perfect choice to boost your employee benefits.

So why not add your team to Kota and get them covered? It only takes 10 minutes!


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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