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Maternity in Northern Ireland

Maternity Leave

If you are having a baby in Northern Ireland recent changes mean that you have the right to take up to 52 weeks maternity leave.This does not depend on how long you have worked for your employer.

You can choose when to start your maternity leave.  It can be at any time on, or after, the 11th week before your baby is due.  However, your maternity leave will start automatically if you’re off work for any reason to do with your pregnancy from the fourth week before your baby is due and you must take at least two weeks immediately after the baby is born.

The first 26 weeks of maternity leave are called Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML).  During OML, you will still get all the same rights under your contract of employment as if you were still at work.  The only exception is that you will not get your normal pay unless your contract allows for it.  But you will, for example, still be entitled to build up holiday entitlement and pay increases.

As well as Ordinary Maternity Leave, you can also take an additional 26 weeks’ maternity leave. This is called Additional Maternity Leave (AML). This gives a total of up to 52 weeks maternity leave. If you’re taking AML, this must follow on directly after Ordinary Maternity Leave and there must be no gap between the two.

Maternity Pay

Though you are not entitled to your normal pay, most women employees are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance:

Statutory Maternity Pay

To help you to take time off work both before and after your baby is born, you may be able to get Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP). This a weekly payment from your employer. For further information please see the Statutory Maternity Pay section of  www.nidirect.gov.uk

Maternity Allowance

If you’re pregnant or have a new baby but don’t qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA). For further information please see the Maternity Allowance section of  www.nidirect.gov.uk

Statutory Paternity Pay

In Northern Ireland fathers may be able to get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) which is paid by the employer. For further information please see the Statutory Paternity Pay section of  www.nidirect.gov.uk

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 work in the South and live in the Northern you are entitled to NHS health care which is residency based.

If 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 healthcare, instead they will be covered by the Irish health system.

See also:

Page last checked: January 2016

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: – North /  South

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.