Paid maternity leave has been extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely.
Up until now, mothers in Ireland were entitled to 26 weeks maternity leave with 16 weeks additional unpaid leave which must be taken immediately after the end of the maternity leave.
This meant that for some mothers of premature babies, their leave could be almost used up by the time they get their baby home from hospital.
However under the new arrangements, mothers of premature babies will be entitled to an additional period of paid maternity leave.
From 1st October 2017, the period for which Maternity Benefit is paid is being extended in cases when a baby is born prematurely. The benefit will extend for the duration between the actual birth date of the premature baby to the date when the maternity leave was expected to commence. This will extend the existing 26 weeks of paid maternity leave, so that mothers of premature babies can give their children the care and attention that they need.
This change will benefit nearly 4,500 women annually.
You can view more information about Maternity Benefit on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s website.