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Benefits and entitlements for parents

You and your partner can get 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 time off for medical appointments. Fathers can also take paid time off to attend the last 2 classes in the set of antenatal classes.

Health and safety benefit

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

Your employer grants leave if:

  • they cannot remove a risk to your health
  • assign you alternative 'risk-free' duties

Read more about health and safety benefit on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.

Maternity leave

All pregnant employees can take maternity leave for a basic period of 26 weeks. You should tell your employer as soon as possible that you are planning to take maternity leave.

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

You need to start your maternity leave at least 2 weeks before your estimated due date. You need to 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 social insurance contributions.

Read more about maternity benefit on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.

Unpaid maternity leave

You can take up to 16 weeks' extra maternity leave. This begins immediately after the end of maternity leave. This period is not covered by maternity benefit. Your employer is not obliged to make any payment during this period.

Stillbirths and miscarriages

You get full maternity leave if you have a stillbirth or miscarriage after week 24 of your pregnancy. To apply for this, you need to send your employer a completed application form and a letter from your GP.

Adoptive leave

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 benefit

Adoptive benefit is a payment to employed and self-employed people who adopt a child.

It is paid for 24 weeks from the date of placement if your adoptive leave begins on the same day.

You will need to have made a certain number of paid PRSI contributions.

Read more about adoptive benefit on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.

Paternity leave

Partners or spouses living with you can take paid paternity leave of 2 weeks following a birth or adoption. You can start paternity leave at any time within the first 6 months.

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 social insurance (PRSI). There are a number of conditions you need to satisfy to get it.

Read more about paternity benefit on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection website.

Parental leave

When you return to work you can avail of parental leave. You will not receive payment for this. Both parents are entitled to take parental leave.

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.

Related topic

Under 6s GP visit card

Page last reviewed: 15/03/2018
Next review due: 15/03/2021