Maternity benefit (MB) is paid by the Department of Social Protection to women who have a certain number of paid PRSI contributions on their social insurance record and who are in insurable employment (ie employment that is liable for such social insurance contributions) up to the first day of their maternity leave (ML).
The PRSI contributions can be from both employment and self-employment – the PRSI classes that count for MB are A, E, H and S (self-employed).
If you are employed you must have one of the following three:
If you do not meet these PRSI conditions and you were self-employed before starting work as an employee, you can use your class S contributions to qualify for MB.
If you are self-employed you must be in insurable employment and have one of the following three:
PRSI class S contributions for a particular year are not awarded until you have paid tax due for that year. To qualify for MB, your income tax and PRSI liabilities (primarily for the relevant tax year) must be paid.
If you do not meet these PRSI conditions, and you were in insurable employment before becoming self-employed, you can use your PRSI contributions (class A, E and H) in that employment to qualify for MB.
If you are self-employed, a doctor must complete a medical certificate for MB form (MB3) to certify the expected due date of your baby.
How long is MB paid?
MB is paid for 26 weeks (156 days). It is a six-day week payment, which covers Monday to Saturday. Sunday is not treated as a day of entitlement for MB. At least two weeks and not more than 16 weeks of leave, must be taken before the end of the week in which your baby is due.
To ensure you take the minimum two weeks ML before due date, you must start your ML on the Monday before the week in which your baby is due (eg if your baby is due Wednesday 12 October 2022, the latest date for you to start ML is Monday 3 October 2022).
You can take a further 16 weeks of unpaid ML, which must be taken immediately after the end of your 26 weeks’ paid MB. This period is not covered by MB but you will be entitled to a credited social insurance contribution for each week of unpaid leave you take (up to a max of 16 weeks).
MB will be paid directly in to your bank account or you can choose to have it paid directly to your employer’s bank account. The payment is made each week in advance. The weekly rate is €250.
When should you apply for MB?
You should apply for MB at least six weeks before you intend to go on ML. If self-employed, you should apply at least 12 weeks in advance before you intend to go on ML. You can apply for MB online at MyWelfare.ie
If you pay tax, you will have to pay tax on the MB payment. You will not have to pay Universal Social Charge (USC) or social insurance (PRSI).
Eligibility for MB
Anyone can check their PRSI record of contributions on the website MyWelfare.ie, using their MyGovID account and inputting their PPSN to get a contribution statement. According to a spokesperson from the north Leinster Citizen Information Service, if you do not quite fit the requirements or are unsure of your entitlements please call your local office who will be happy to help you.