Maternity Leave

Maternity Leave Policy

1. Introduction

University College Cork is committed to ensuring equality and diversity across the organisation and the purpose of the Maternity Policy is to provide an opportunity for our female staff to integrate the development of a career with family responsibilities.  This document sets out the maternity provisions to which female employees are entitled, both before and after the birth of their child.  The University’s policy complies with the provisions of the Maternity Protection Act 1994, and the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 and applies to all female staff in the University.

Maternity provisions refer to the leave and pay to which employees may be entitled, and their right to resume employment with the University, following the period of leave. All employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment on the grounds of pregnancy, childbirth or maternity, irrespective of hours of work or service and have the right to demand a written statement of the reasons for dismissal, if dismissed while pregnant.

All employees seeking maternity leave must produce medical evidence of the expected week of birth. This will normally be in the form of a medical cert from the employee’s GP and will be issued approximately 15 weeks before the expected week of birth.

There is no distinction between live and still births in the granting of maternity leave.

2. Antenatal care

All pregnant employees irrespective of length of service have a statutory right to reasonable paid time off work to keep appointments for antenatal care prescribed by a doctor, midwife or health visitor. Evidence of appointments may be requested.

3. Maternity leave entitlements

Under the maternity legislation all women are entitled to 42 weeks maternity leave.  Payment of maternity leave may be sourced both from the Department of Social Welfare and/or the University.  The 42 week entitlement is divided into 26 weeks paid and an additional 16 weeks unpaid.   Entitlements to paid leave and unpaid leave are outlined in the Universities maternity leave policy. Employees are entitled to full pay for twenty six (26) weeks except where appointed for a period of less than 26 weeks. 

4. Maternity pay entitlements

Employees who pay Class D PRSI may be granted full pay from the University whilst on maternity leave. If employees pay Class A1 PRSI, they must fill in the MB1 form and send the MB2 form to the HR Maternity Policy Administrator for completion.  Both forms need to be returned directly to:

Maternity Benefit Section, Department of Social Protection, 

McCarter’s Road, Buncrana, Co. Donegal

The standard amount of €262.00 will be deducted from salary for 26 weeks. The maternity benefit payment will be sent directly to the staff member’s bank account.

5. Maternity leave

  • Maternity Leave can commence at any time from the 11th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • If an employee gives birth before the commencement of Maternity Leave, they should notify the Head of Department/School and the HR Maternity Policy Administrator as soon as is reasonably practical that they have given birth and the date the baby was born. In these circumstances, maternity leave will start automatically on the day of the birth.
  • Employees will not qualify for sick pay whilst they are on Maternity Leave.
  • Employees are not eligible to work whilst receiving Statutory Maternity pay.
  • From 1st October 2017, the period for which maternity benefit is paid is being extended in cases where a baby is born prematurely. The extended period of benefit will be equivalent to the duration between the actual date of birth of the premature baby and the date when the maternity leave was expected to commence (i.e. ordinarily two weeks before the expected date of birth). This new measure, which takes effect for premature babies born on or after Sunday, 1st October, will increase the duration of maternity leave and the associated maternity benefit to be paid in cases where a baby is born prematurely

6. Annual leave

  • Employees will continue to accrue annual leave during paid and unpaid maternity leave. They will also accrue any University Closure Days that occur during maternity leave.
  • It is not possible to take annual leave whilst on maternity leave. This means that any annual leave accrued during this period must be taken at any alternative date as detailed below.
  • The University Closure Days at Christmas will be included in the maternity leave dates if the maternity leave spans over this time period.
  • The University’s annual leave year runs from 1 July to 30th June.
  • Any annual leave accrued before maternity leave starts should be taken during that leave year.
  • Any annual leave or University Closure Days that will accrue whilst on maternity leave during the annual leave year in which maternity leave begins should be taken:

  either before maternity leave starts (ie it is taken in the same annual leave year);

  or immediately on return from maternity leave, thereby effectively extending the employee’s actual physical return to work.

  • Any annual leave accrued whilst on maternity leave during the annual leave year in which the employee returns may be taken:

  either immediately on return from maternity leave, thereby effectively extending the employee’s actual physical return to work (even if this crosses into a new annual leave year);

or at some other mutually agreed time during the annual leave year in which the employee returns.

  • Any public holidays that fall during the twenty six (26)-week period of paid maternity leave will be added to the end of the period of maternity leave. Holiday entitlements will be calculated as if the employee was at work. Employees availing of additional unpaid maternity leave will be entitled to annual leave and payment of public holidays which fall within the period of unpaid maternity leave.

7. Adoption

The University has a separate policy on adoption leave, which covers adoption.

8. Staff on fixed-term contracts

If the employees contract of employment is due to expire during the maternity leave there needs to be a discussion with the line manager and the HR Business Manager as soon as possible to review this contract.  If a contract renewal is not possible than the employee may still be entitled to paid maternity leave and maternity benefit from the Department of Social Welfare up to the end date of your contract.

9. Grant funded staff

Those staff who are grant funded should contact both the grant holders and their PI at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss whether any additional arrangements may be available under the grant terms for the payment of salary during maternity leave. For instance, some funding bodies do have a policy to extend grants to cover maternity periods.

10. Maternity cover

At the earliest convenience, employees are advised to discuss any maternity cover that may be necessary during the absence with the line manager in the first instance and the line manager can then discuss this with the HR Business Manager.  An outline of the cover agreed and the additional costs involved must be drawn up by the Head of School or Head of Central Unit.  The line manager will assess the requirements of the department/unit over the period of leave and may avail of a number of options including:-  

  • Re-evaluation of the work load and the timing of delivery
  • Part-time Hourly Occasional teaching support for academic staff
  • Reassignment or reallocation of key duties
  • Part or fulltime replacement at a different grade
  • Internal opportunity for skills development for staff

11. Pension arrangements

While on maternity leave employees will continue to be a member of the relevant pension scheme.  During the paid maternity leave employees service continues to be reckonable. If an employee avails of the additional unpaid maternity leave this will not be reckonable for superannuation. Therefore this absence will not count as service.

12. Health and safety

In the workplace there may be risks that may affect a pregnant employees health and safety and that of the unborn child. There are specific regulations that require the University as an employer to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers. 


Under Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 Pregnant Employees Regulations, a risk assessment/job assessment must be conducted at departmental/unit level in relation to the impact of work on the person/unborn child and retained on Departmental Records. 

Upon confirmation of pregnancy, HR will then issue the employee with a copy of UCC's Pregnancy Job Risk Assessment Form. This risk assessment must be completed in conjunction with the line manager and submit this to the Health and Safety Office.

The Health and Safety Office will submit the completed form to the University Occupational Health Physician who will advise if any modifications are required to the work activities during pregnancy or whilst nursing a new born child.

Employees may also be entitled to Health & Safety Leave if they are exposed to certain risks in the workplace during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. During this leave the employee may be entitled to Health & Safety Benefit which is a weekly payment for women who are granted Health & Safety Leave under the Maternity Protection Act, 1994.


13. What the employee must do

In order to qualify for maternity leave and maternity pay, and to safeguard the right to return to work, the employee must:

  • notify their line manager and Human Resources in writing of the date they intend to start the maternity leave and whether it is their intention to return to work after the birth of the child. This should be done no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth by completing a ML1 form and submitting it with a note from their GP confirming the due date to Department of Human Resources via the line manager;
  • give at least 4 weeks’ notice of any changes to the  return to work date.

14. Continuity of service

The contract of employment continues throughout maternity leave. Continuity of service will not have been broken by an unpaid period of absence under the maternity provision, therefore entitlement to periods of notice, holidays and sick leave which accrued at the beginning of maternity leave will not be lost.

15. Communications

It is recommended that employees and line managers make arrangements to maintain reasonable contact during maternity leave in order to keep the employee informed of important developments at work, discuss plans for returning to work, etc. Individuals should also ensure that they keep themselves informed as appropriate (eg by regularly reviewing the University’s Current Vacancies web page).

16. Keeping in touch days

While on Maternity Leave you are entitled by agreement with your Head of School/Department/Unit to work for a maximum 3 Keep in Touch Days (KIT) for which you would be paid. The type of work undertaken is a matter for agreement between both parties – the days may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under your contract of employment.

17. Returning to Work

  • Employees may exercise the right to return to work at any time during the period of leave, except that they may not return within two weeks of the birth of the child. They will have the right to return to the job or comparable job to that which they were employed with the same terms and conditions as if they had not been absent. If they return prior to the end of the maternity period they should give at least 4 weeks notice, in writing, of their intended date of return.
  • While returning to work on the basis of an alternative working pattern or hours of work is not a right, the University will give appropriate consideration to such requests, on either a temporary or permanent basis, from employees returning to work following maternity leave. They should submit a request in writing via a flexible working application form as early as possible, but not later than 8 weeks before the notified date of return to work. Any change must be discussed and agreed with their manager. The possibility of flexible working arrangements, which may include arrangements for establishing a job share, may be discussed with their manager in conjunction with Human Resources

18.  Credits for Maternity leave/Adoptive leave

  • You will automatically be awarded credits while you are getting Maternity Benefit, Adoptive Benefit or Health and Safety Benefit.
  • If however you avail of unpaid statutory maternity leave, you must get your employer to complete an application for maternity leave credits (pdf) when you return to work. Similarly, if you avail of  unpaid statutory adoptive leave, you must get your employer to complete an application for adoptive leave credits (pdf) when you return to work.

CONTACT: Ms Kathy O'Connell, Department of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Ground Floor, Block E, Food Science Building, University College Cork. Tel: 4902674. E-mail:



Human Resources

Acmhainní Daonna

Ground Floor, Block E, Food Science Building, UCC