Maternity Leave

Maternity Protection Act, 1994

Rights under this act apply to all pregnant employees, all employees who have given birth in the previous 14 weeks, and all employees who are breast feeding up to 26 weeks after the birth, provided they have notified their employer of their condition. No minimum length of service is required.

Qualifying employees are entitled to:

14 weeks maternity leave, to include at least four weeks before the expected date of birth and at least four weeks after the birth
Four weeks additional maternity leave (optional)
Social Welfare payment, if applicable, during the 14 weeks maternity leave.
Employees must give employers at least four weeks written notice before:

taking maternity leave
taking additional maternity leave
returning to work
Other categories of protective leave under the Maternity Protection Act:

Natal Care Leave

Employees are entitled to paid time off to receive ante-natal or post-natal care. Two weeks notice of appointments should be given to the employer where possible.

Father's Leave

If a mother dies during maternity or additional maternity leave, the father may avail of the outstanding balance of the leave.

Health and Safety Leave

Employers are required to identify any risk to which employees covered by the Maternity Protection Act might be exposed. If a risk is established, the employer should remove it or transfer the employee to suitable alternative work. If no such work is available, the woman must be granted health and safety leave.

Employers are obliged to pay employees for the first three weeks of health and safety leave, after which social welfare benefits may apply.

Health and Safety provisions may also apply to employees who normally work at night (subject to medical certification).


* The right to maternity leave accrues after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

* All employment rights other than the right to remuneration are either preserved or suspended during protective leave.

Disputes arising under this act may be referred to a Rights Commissioner (six-month time limit); this decision may be appealed to the Employment Appeals Tribunal within four weeks.