Health and Safety Benefit
What is Health and Safety Benefit?
Health and Safety Benefit is a weekly payment for employed women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and who are granted health and safety leave by their employer.
You are granted health and safety leave from employment if your employer cannot remove a risk to your health while you are pregnant, or breastfeeding, or assign you alternative "risk-free" duties. The right to health and safety leave from employment is set out under Section 18 of the Maternity Protection Act 1994.
To qualify for Health and Safety Benefit, you must meet certain criteria and social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions. Your employer pays your normal wage for the first 21 days (3 weeks) of your health and safety leave and the Department of Social Protection pays Health and Safety Benefit for the remainder.
If you think you have been wrongly refused Health and Safety Benefit you can appeal this decision.
During health and safety leave from employment, you are still considered to be in employment (this means, for example, that you continue to accumulate annual leave entitlement). However you are not entitled to payment for public holidays that occur while you are on health and safety leave.
How to qualify
To get Health and Safety Benefit you must:
- Be pregnant or have recently given birth
- Be awarded health and safety leave from your employer
- Satisfy PRSI conditions
Pregnant or recently given birth
If you are pregnant you can qualify for Health and Safety Benefit if you are:
- Exposed to certain risks in the workplace or
- A night worker
If you are breastfeeding, you can qualify if you are exposed to certain risks in the workplace. This only applies when you are breastfeeding in the first 26 weeks after the birth.
If you have given birth in the last 14 weeks, you can qualify if you are a night worker.
A night worker works for at least 3 hours of their normal shift between 11pm and 6am, or at least 25% of their monthly hours are between 11pm and 6am.
You can read detailed guidance on what certain risks means from the Health and Safety Authority.
Be awarded health and safety leave
You must apply to your employer for health and safety leave.
For Health and Safety Benefit you must meet one of the following PRSI conditions:
- You have least 13 weeks of social insurance (PRSI) paid in the 12 months immediately before the date your baby is due or
- You have 104 weeks' PRSI paid since you first started work and 39 weeks' PRSI paid or credited in the relevant tax year or in the year following the relevant tax year (of which at least 13 must be paid contributions) or
- You have 104 weeks' PRSI paid since you first started work and 26 weeks' PRSI paid in the relevant tax year and 26 weeks' PRSI paid in the tax year before the relevant tax year
The relevant tax year is the second-last complete tax year before you claim Health and Safety Benefit. For example, for claims made in 2024 the relevant tax year is 2022.
How long is Health and Safety Benefit paid?
Health and Safety Benefit lasts until:
- The day you become entitled to Maternity Benefit, if you are pregnant
- 14 weeks from the date on which you gave birth, if you are an employee who has recently given birth and do night work
- 26 weeks from the date on which you gave birth, if you are breastfeeding
You are disqualified from getting Health and Safety Benefit if:
- You are getting Maternity Benefit
- You are no longer at risk in the workplace
- Your employer has removed the risk or given you other work
- You are employed on a fixed-term contract and that contract expires
- You return to work or start other work
- You go to prison
Weekly Health and Safety Benefit rate 2024
Earnings per week
Qualified adult rate
Less than €150
€150 - €219.99
€220 - €299.99
€300 or more
Half-rate Health and Safety Benefit can be paid if you are getting certain social welfare payments.
Payment of Health and Safety Benefit
You will be paid directly into your bank account, or by weekly cheque. You get a personal rate and may get an increase for an adult dependant and child dependant. Your average weekly earnings do not affect the rate of payment for a child dependant.
Under the Maternity Protection Act 1994, a woman who qualifies for Health and Safety Benefit is entitled to claim Working Family Payment (WFP).
How to apply
To get this benefit you must fill in a Health and Safety Benefit application form (pdf) and send it to the Health and Safety Benefit Section (see 'Where to apply' below).
You must complete parts 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7.
Your employer must fill in, sign and stamp part 4.
Your GP must fill in, sign and stamp part 8.
Health and Safety Benefit and tax
Health and Safety Benefit is taxable for all claimants. It is taxed in the same way as Maternity Benefit. Universal Social Charge and PRSI are not payable. You can read about how Maternity Benefit is taxed.
You can also get more information from Revenue on taxation of Maternity Benefit.