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 Employment Affairs and 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.
Taxation of Health and Safety Benefit
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 in the document, Taxation of social welfare payments. You can also get more information from Revenue on taxation of Maternity Benefit.
To get Health and Safety Benefit you must:
- Be a pregnant employee who is exposed to certain risks in the workplace or is a night worker (that is, you must spend at least 3 hours or 25% of your work between 11pm and 6am) or
- Have given birth in the last 14 weeks and be involved in night work or
- Be breastfeeding (up to 26 weeks after the birth) and exposed to certain risks in the workplace. The Health and Safety Authority provides full details of what these risks (pdf) are.
You must also meet the following PRSI conditions:
- Have at least 13 weeks of social insurance (PRSI) paid in the 12 months immediately before the date your baby is due or
- 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
- 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 2020 the relevant tax year is 2018.
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 stop getting Health and Safety Benefit if your health and safety leave ends because:
- You are no longer at risk in the workplace or
- Your employer has removed the risk or given you other work or
- You are employed on a fixed-term contract and that contract expires.
Weekly payment in 2020
|Earnings per week||Personal rate||Qualified adult rate|
|Less than €150||€91.10||€87.20|
|€150 - €219.99||€131.00||€87.20|
|€220 - €299.99||€159.00||€87.20|
|€300 or more||€203.00||€134.70|
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.
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.
Where to apply