Previously if an employee’s baby was born prematurely, prior to the employee starting their maternity benefit, the employee was only entitled to the statutory 26 weeks maternity from the date of the baby’s birth for the 26 weeks.
Since 1st October 2017, maternity benefit is payable to an employee for an extra period after the end of the 26 weeks in the case of a premature birth. Maternity leave is also extended for this additional period of time. It relates to the period of time between the baby’s actual birth date and the expected start date of the employee’s maternity leave.
If an employee’s baby is born in week 32 of the pregnancy [5 weeks approx. prior to the date the employee would have planned to start maternity leave], the employee can claim for the standard 26 weeks maternity benefit. In addition, now a claim can be made for the extra 5 weeks. This will be paid at the end of the 26 weeks. The maternity benefit and maternity leave will then last 31 weeks [the baby will be 31 weeks old]. Note: births must be on or after 1 October 2017
Should your employee be in this situation they should make a claim to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to bring forward the start date of the Maternity Benefit claim. A copy of the baby’s birth certificate or a letter from the hospital confirming the date of birth must be provided with the application [the baby must be born on or after 1 October 2017]. In addition, an employee will also be required to provide a letter from the hospital confirming the actual date of birth and the number of weeks’ gestation at which the baby was born before the end of the first 26 weeks of the Maternity Benefit.