What Is The Story With Maternity Benefit In Ireland?
When you are trying for a baby, your entitlements can be the furthest thing from your mind.
However, with less than six in ten Irish women being topped up by their employer (just under 60% of companies now pay a top-up of some form, according to the latest IBEC research;) getting the information you need as early as possible in your pregnancy, is vital to ensure that you can budget for when you are off. You should apply for the payment at least 6 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed.)
So, first things first, - who is entitled to State Maternity Benefit?
The Department of Social Protection say that Maternity Benefit is paid by them to women who have a certain number of paid PRSI contributions on their social insurance record, and who are in insurable employment up to the first day of their maternity leave. The last day of work can be within 16 weeks of the end of the week your baby is due. That last piece of information is very important for anyone who is on a contract that is due to run out or who is about to be made redundant during their pregnancy. You cannot go from Unemployment Benefit to Maternity Benefit but can start your Maternity Benefit as early as 16 weeks before your baby is due. Contact the department or your local Citizens Advice office for further details.
Read Next: Know Your Maternity Leave Rights
What if I am self-employed?
The PRSI contributions can be from both employment or self-employment - the PRSI classes that count for Maternity Benefit so if you are self-employed you must be in insurable employment and have:
52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2014, the relevant tax year is 2012.
52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2014, the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year is 2011.
52 weeks PRSI contributions paid at Class S in the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2014, the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year is 2013. t are A, E, H and S (self-employed).
And if I'm in employment?
In this case you must have:
At least 39 weeks PRSI paid in the 12-month period before the first day of your maternity leave.
At least 39 weeks PRSI paid since first starting work and at least 39 weeks PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year or in the tax year immediately following the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2014, the relevant tax year is 2012 and the year following that is 2013.
At least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and at least 26 weeks PRSI paid in the tax year immediately before the relevant tax year. For example, if you are going on maternity leave in 2014, the relevant tax year is 2012 and the year before that is 2011.
How long will I receive the payment for?
Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks. It must be started at least two weeks and not more than 16 weeks before the end of the week in which your baby is due.
Read Next: Returning to Work After Maternity Leave
How much will I get?
The rate of Maternity Benefit was standardised in last year's budget so part-time and full-time employees now receive the same payment of €235. This may be increased if you have dependents and your partner is unemployed. See the Department of Social Welfare's own website for further details.
How do I collect the payment?
Maternity Benefit is paid directly into your bank or building society account (a current or deposit account, not a mortgage account) or you can choose to have it paid directly into your employer's bank account. Payment is made each week in advance. Is it true that Maternity Benefit is taxable now? Yes, since 1 July 2013 Maternity Benefit is liable to tax. It is not, however, subject to PRSI or USC.
How does this work?
Revenue will receive your Maternity Benefit details which will be updated onto Revenue’s records. A State Maternity Benefit recipient who pays their tax through the PAYE system will have their annual tax credits and rate bands reduced by the Maternity Benefit amount. Employers will be advised of the adjusted tax credits and rate band on employer tax credit certificates. Employees should be aware that the online PAYE system may automatically update your details to include 52 weeks of payment so if this is the case you will have to contact Revenue directly to make sure that you are only paying tax on payments you have actually received. A State Maternity Benefit recipient who is self-assessed should include details of the Maternity Benefit received in their annual tax return (Form 11).
What if I have a stillbirth or miscarriage?
If you have a stillbirth or miscarriage any time from the start of the 25th week, you are entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave. You are also entitled to 26 weeks Maternity Benefit provided you satisfy the social insurance (PRSI) requirements. To apply for Maternity Benefit following a stillbirth, you need to send a letter from your doctor with the Maternity Benefit application form, confirming the expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the number of weeks of pregnancy.
How do I apply?
You just have to fill in a Maternity Benefit application form six weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave and send it to: Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Social Protection, McCarter's Road, Buncrana, Donegal. This form is also available by post at the address listed above. And if I'm self-employed? Self-employed moms should apply at least 12 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave.