The Budget 2014 announcement that Maternity Benefit is to be capped at €230 per week has significant implications for numerous employees and employers alike.

The current upper rate of €262 per week is an entitlement enjoyed by the vast majority of women in Ireland claiming Maternity Benefit. The reduction by €32 per week, which will be effective for new Maternity Benefit claims from January 2014, may discourage women from having children. Alternatively, it may force mothers to avail of shorter periods of Maternity Leave than they would like because they simply cannot afford to remain out of the workplace for the full 6 month period.

The reduction of €32 per week over 6 months will see many new mothers lose out on €832 in Maternity Benefit.

Some employers pay the difference between the Department of Social Protection Maternity Benefit figure and the employee’s regular salary (a “top-up” amount) as a gesture to employees so that they do not suffer major financial implications while on Maternity Leave.

The Budget 2014 decision to reduce the amount paid by the State means that employers who cover the difference between Maternity Benefit and an employee’s regular salary will now have to find an additional €832 per employee over the 6 month period in order to maintain the same level of maternity pay for employees while they are availing of maternity leave.

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