The granting of Maternity leave is governed by the Maternity Protection Act, 1994 and Extensions of periods of leave Order 2001. The main purpose of the act is to provide protection to all pregnant employees. It gives the employee certain legal rights which include:-
- 26 weeks consecutive leave (effective from 1/3/2007)
- the right to take up to 16 additional weeks leave - unpaid
- the right to return to work in their previous job
- the right to take time off without loss of pay to attend ante-natal and post-natal medical appointments,
- the right to health and safety leave in certain circumstances,
- the right of an employed father to leave where the death of the mother occurs within 18 weeks of the birth,
- the right not to be dismissed for any pregnancy-related reason from the beginning of pregnancy until the end of maternity leave.
In the Health Service a woman in full-time or *regular part-time employment who is on maternity leave is entitled to receive full normal pay, less any amount attributable to overtime, night work, shift work, unsocial hours payment, standby or on- call fees less any social welfare entitlement. This is recouped from the Department of Social Community and Family Affairs.
* Regular Part-time Employees are those who are in continuous employment for not less than 13 weeks and who are normally expected to work not less than 8 hours per week
Fixed Term Contracts
Employees in fixed term contracts with less than 26 weeks remaining at commencement of maternity leave are entitled to maternity leave but are not entitled to any remuneration.