Change to maternity benefit helps migrants working in Ireland

The measure allows a new mother to continue receiving Maternity Benefit and Adoptive Benefit for up to six weeks while they are out of the country

An amendment to Maternity Benefits rules will benefit migrants working in Ireland.

The changes, announced today by Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar, allows women to leave the EU for a short break without losing their maternity benefit.

The measure allows a new mother to continue receiving Maternity Benefit and Adoptive Benefit for up to six weeks while they are out of the country, so long as their primary place of work is Ireland. The Regulation also allows the standard two weeks of Paternity Benefit to be paid in similar situations.

Continued payment of these benefits is also being extended to Irish and EU citizens who travel outside of the EU for a maximum of six weeks.

The Department of Social Justice said the change will of particular interest to women who come from outside the EU and want to bring their new baby back to their home country for a short visit after childbirth.

It follows extensive campaigning from the Irish Nurses and Midwives' Organisation (INMO), due to the large number of nurses from overseas who work in the Irish health service - many of whom originate in far-away countries like India and the Philippines.

“Many new mothers want to introduce their new baby to its grandparents, yet until now, doing so risked jeopardising their entitlement to maternity benefit", Minister Varadkar said upon the announcement. 

"At a time when other countries are closing their borders, Ireland stands by our belief in internationalism and globalism. This means a world with fewer borders and barriers to the movement of people and commerce."

Reaction

Minister for Health, Simon Harris  welcomed the announcement.

"I am particularly pleased that  the flexibility on travelling abroad and retaining maternity benefits is being introduced at this time, allowing nurses and midwives from abroad who are working here to visit their home countries in the knowledge that they will not be penalised for doing so.

"Many of our nurses and midwives come from India and the Philippines and now they can introduce grandparents to their new grandchildren without losing their maternity benefit."

INMO Director of Regulation and Social Policy, Edward Mathews commented:

"Nurses and midwives from overseas have, for a long time, and indeed continue to make an essential contribution to our health service.  This initiative recognises the importance of their contribution, removes the burden of financial hardship arising from travelling to their home country during maternity leave and, is an important development in the context of measures needed to ensure the continued recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives to address ongoing staff shortages."

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