Looking for guidance on your first maternity leave? This article should help put your worries at rest and clarify everything you need to know about taking maternity leave.

How much maternity leave are you entitled to?

All women in a position of employment, no matter how long they have been with the company or how many hours they are contracted to work, are entitled to 26 weeks of maternity leave. An additional 16 weeks of maternity leave (unpaid) is available to you if you choose to stay at home a little longer with your new born. So, if you are new to a position and feel nervous about taking maternity leave so soon after starting a new job, don’t, you’re legally entitled to take the time you need to look after your little one.

Guide to maternity leave

When to take it?

Under the Maternity Protection Amendment 2004, you must take your maternity leave at least 2 weeks before the end of the week of your expected due date. This will give you some time to relax and start to make final preparations before your baby arrives. Remember, you are legally obliged to give your employer at least 4 weeks notice as to when you plan to take your maternity leave.

Payment during maternity leave

Payment during your maternity leave is dependent on your contract of employment; not all employers are obliged to pay you while on maternity leave. So make sure to review your employment contract and clarify the terms and conditions of your maternity leave entitlement with your employer. It is important to note that the additional 16 weeks, which you’re are free to avail of, is not covered by Maternity Benefit, therefore your employer is not obliged to pay you during this period.

What about Paternity Leave?

If you are due to have your baby in 2016, your partner will be entitled to take 2 weeks paternity leave and will also be entitled to the Paternity Benefit.

In the past paternity leave has not been legally granted to dads after the birth of their new born baby; however it was announced late this year in the 2016 budget that the laws around paternity leave are finally being altered. Now, if you are due to have your baby in 2016, your partner will be entitled to take 2 weeks paternity leave and will also be entitled to the Paternity Benefit. This means your partner will be free to stay at home and support you every step of the way during your baby’s first few days at home.

For more information on Paternity Leave visit: www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/leave_and_holidays/paternity_leave.html

Medical Visits

During your pregnancy, you will have a number of doctors’ visits scheduled to monitor your progress. Making time to attend every appointment can be tough if you are working a 9-5 job, but don’t panic, you are legally entitled to take as much time of work as necessary to attend each visit.

Lastly, remember to enjoy your maternity leave and spend it bonding with your new born, it’s a precious time for both you and your little one!

For more information, please see: www.citizensinformation.ie/en/employment/employment_rights_and_conditions/leave_and_holidays/maternity_leave.html.