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Benefits and entitlements when you have a baby

You and your partner may be entitled to benefits and supports when you are pregnant and after you have your baby.

Antenatal classes and medical appointments

Before your baby is born, you can take paid time off work to attend antenatal classes.

You can also take paid time off for medical appointments.

Partners can also take paid time off to attend the last 2 classes in the set of antenatal classes.

Health and safety benefit

Health and safety benefit is for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You will get this if you are granted health and safety leave by your employer.

Your employer may grant leave if they cannot:

  • remove a risk to your health while you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • assign you alternative 'risk-free' duties

Health and safety benefit -

Maternity leave

All pregnant employees can take maternity leave for at least 26 weeks. Tell your employer as soon as possible that you are planning to take maternity leave.

Do this by letting them know in writing at least 4 weeks before the start of your maternity leave.

Start your maternity leave at least 2 weeks before your estimated due date. You should take at least 4 weeks maternity leave after the birth of your baby.

Maternity benefit

You may be entitled to maternity benefit, depending on your pay-related social insurance contributions (PRSI).

Apply for maternity benefit -

Maternity benefit information -

Unpaid maternity leave

You can take up to 16 weeks of extra maternity leave. This begins immediately after the end of your 26 weeks of maternity leave.

This period is not covered by maternity benefit. Your employer does not have to make any payment during this period.

Maternity leave -

Stillbirths and miscarriages

You are entitled to full maternity leave if either of the following happens:

If you have enough PRSI contributions, you can get Maternity Benefit for the 26 weeks basic maternity leave.

To apply for Maternity Leave and Maternity Benefit following a stillbirth or miscarriage, you'll need to send a letter from your doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form (MB1).

The letter must state the expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the number of weeks of pregnancy.

Adoptive leave

If you adopt a child you can take 24 weeks paid adoptive leave. You are also entitled to take 16 weeks additional unpaid adoptive leave.

You can also take paid time off work to attend preparation classes and pre-adoption meetings with social workers during the pre-adoption process.

Adoptive leave -

Paternity leave

Relevant parents can take paternity leave.

These are:

  • the father of the child
  • the partner (spouse, civil partner or cohabitant) of the mother of the child
  • the parent of a donor-conceived child

You can start paternity leave at any time within the first 6 months.

Paternity leave -

Paternity benefit

Paternity benefit is a payment to employed and self-employed people who are on paternity leave from work.

It is paid for 2 weeks and covered by pay-related social insurance (PRSI).

Paternity benefit -

Parental leave

When you return to work you can take parental leave. Both parents are entitled to take parental leave.

Parental leave -

Parent's benefit

If you are entitled to parental leave, you may also be entitled to parent's benefit. This is a payment which is available for the first 2 years after your child’s birth or adoption.

Parent's benefit -

Breastfeeding mothers

You can take time off work each day to breastfeed your baby for the first 6 months.

You are entitled to either:

  • paid time off to feed your baby in your workplace
  • reduced working hours without loss of pay to feed your baby outside the workplace

Your employer decides which option is the most suitable.

Breastfeeding and returning to work

Child benefit and other supports

Under 6s GP visit card

Page last reviewed: 16 September 2022
Next review due: 16 September 2025