Maternity Leave and Shared Parental Leave

Site updated on February 17, 2020

The maternity rights that all women have at present are summarised below.

You qualify for some of these from your first day at work, effectively, no matter how many hours you work. You do need to be an Employee, with a contract of Employment to get most family based rights. Casual or “bank”” staff do not usually qualify for maternity rights, but if you have worked regularly for the same employer it is worth checking with our help line to see if you qualify. If you are on a zero hours contract you may still be entitled to some family rights.

You might also qualify if you work for an Employment Agency –  certainly for Ante natal leave and pay – again check with our help line to see if you qualify.

You qualify for some of these from your first day at work:

  • Maternity leave from your Employer ( for this to be paid leave however you need 26 weeks service with your Employer) and possibly maternity allowance from the State.
  • Ordinary maternity leave (this was previously referred to as basic maternity leave) of 26 weeks.
  • Additional maternity leave rights – a further 26 weeks leave.
  • Time off for antenatal care, no service required.
  • Your full contractual benefits (holiday pay, car, mobile phone) during all your maternity leave (apart from your normal pay). This became the position  from October 2008.
  • Health and safety protection, which includes requesting a move to a suitable alternative job during pregnancy.
  • Protection against unfair dismissal – nb this includes selection for redundancy – connected with your pregnancy or for taking maternity leave.
  • The right not to be discriminated against because you are pregnant or you have taken maternity leave.
  • You have certain rights after your return to work whilst you are breastfeeding – this is health and safety law.
  •  The right not to be victimised on grounds of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity.

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