Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection
Maternity benefit is a payment made for 26 weeks to employed and self-employed pregnant women who are on maternity leave and who satisfy certain pay related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions. A decision to extend the period of maternity leave for employees would have to be implemented by the Minister for Justice and Equality who has policy and legal responsibility for this area. An extension of this leave would require careful consideration and consultation. Engagement with employer representative groups and trade unions would have to take place to assess its impact at a time when businesses are facing serious challenges.
In 2020 it is estimated that my Department will spend in excess of €270 million on maternity benefit in respect of an average of 21,000 recipients per week. Increasing the benefit to 52 weeks would double the costs of the existing scheme and would require a maternity benefit provision of €540 million. This estimate is based on the cost for a full year and assumes that any increase in duration is implemented from the beginning of the year.
It should also be noted that there would be additional costs to the Exchequer as these estimates do not include the costs for substitution or salary top-ups which would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Decisions around the extension of this benefit would have to be considered in a budgetary context and the impact it would have on employers.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.