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Maternity in Ireland

Maternity Leave

All female employees, no matter how long they have been working, are entitled to take maternity leave for a basic period of  26 weeks.  At least two weeks have to be taken before the end of the week of your baby’s expected birth and at least four weeks taken after.  You can also avail of an additional 16 weeks unpaid maternity leave.  If a mother dies within 24 weeks of the birth, the father is entitled to maternity leave from work.

From September 2016  fathers will have the option to apply for two weeks’ paid paternity leave following the birth of their child. Paternity leave

For more information visit Citizens Information – Maternity leave

Antenatal classes

Before the birth you are entitled to take paid time off work to attend one set of antenatal classes.  This is a once-off right which covers all pregnancies while in employment.  You may also take reasonable time off for medical visits both before and after the birth.  Expectant fathers have a once-off right to attend two antenatal classes.For further information please visit Citizens Information – Antenatal Classes

Social Assistance

During the basic period of maternity leave you may be entitled to Maternity Benefit providing you satisfy the social insurance contribution conditions.

If you are parenting alone you may be entitled to the One Parent Family Payment which is a means-tested payment  You may also receive Maternity Benefit at a reduced rate, if you are getting One Parent Family Payment.

For information on maternity related benefits and others please visit the website of the Department of Social Protection – Maternity and Adoption and Maternity Benefit pages

Health Care

The Maternity and Infant Care Scheme provides an agreed programme of care to all expectant mothers who are ordinarily resident in Ireland. This service is provided by a family doctor (GP) of your choice and a hospital obstetrician. You are entitled to this service even if you do not have a medical card. Virtually all GPs have agreements with the Health Service Executive (HSE) to provide these services; they do not have to be part of the GPs and medical cards system. The Scheme also provides for two post-natal visits to the general practitioner.  For further information please visit Citizens Information – Before your baby is born

Cross-border Issues

If you are not a frontier worker but live in the South and wish to use a Northern hospital for antenatal care and for the birth of your baby it is usually necessary to hire the services of a private consultant.

The consultant may charge approximately £2000 for antenatal care and attendance at the delivery. The hospital charges may be in the region of £2000-£4000 depending on the hospital and the type of delivery needed.

You should contact the maternity department of the hospital as soon as possible and request contact details for their consultants.

Frontier workers

If you are a frontier worker, i.e. you live in the South and work in the North, you are entitled to free NHS health care including maternity care. Please note when you take the baby home from the hospital he or she is not entitled to NHS health care, instead they will be covered by the Irish health system.

If you work in the South and live in the North you are also entitled to NHS health care.

See also:

Updated: September 2017

This webpage is for general information purposes only and while we endeavour to keep it up-to-date, errors may occur.  It is very important that you check with the relevant body to ensure the information is current and is applicable to your situation.

If you would like to suggest amendments or highlight new information that could be useful to others please don’t hesitate to get in touch.