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Extension of Paid Maternity Benefit for Premature Births

Extension of Paid Maternity Leave for Premature Birth

From October 1st Maternity Benefit has been extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely.

From 1st October 2017, the period for which maternity benefit is paid is being extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely. The extended period of benefit will be equivalent to the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and the date when the maternity leave was expected to commence (i.e. ordinarily two weeks before the expected date of birth).

This new measure, which takes effect for premature babies born on or after Sunday, 1st October, will increase the duration of maternity leave and the associated maternity benefit to be paid in cases where a baby is born prematurely.

Under the new arrangements, in addition to the current 26 weeks of paid maternity leave a mother will be entitled to an additional period of paid maternity leave.  The additional period will commence at the end of the stand 26 week period of paid maternity leave.

The additional period to be added will be the number of weeks from the baby’s actual date of birth up to two weeks before the expected date of confinement which would have been the 37th week of the pregnancy, at which point the current entitlement to 26 weeks leave and benefit would normally begin.

So, for example where a baby is born in the 30th week of gestation the mother would have an additional entitlement of approximately 7 weeks of maternity leave and benefit i.e. from the date of birth in the 30th week to the two weeks before the expected date of confinement.  This additional period will be added to the mother’s normal entitlement to 26 weeks of maternity leave and benefit.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection can confirm that it will apply the additional weeks of benefit for pre-term infants born on or after October 1st where the mother meets the ordinary qualifying criteria for maternity benefit.

We advise new mothers of pre-term babies to claim their 26 weeks of Maternity Benefit as usual and to contact the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection or drop an email to maternityben@welfare.ie including their contact details. They will then be contacted by the Department to ensure that additional benefit payment is made.

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