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SOCIAL WELFARE ACT, 1992
19. —(1) The Principal Act is hereby amended by the substitution for Chapter 3 of Part II of the following Chapter:
Title to and duration of allowance.
24.—(1) Subject to this Act, a woman shall be entitled to a maternity allowance if—
(a) it is certified by a registered medical practitioneror otherwise to the satisfaction of the Minister that it is to be expected that she will be confined in a week specified in the certificate (hereafter in this section referred to as ‘the expected week of confinement’), not being more than the prescribed number of weeks after that in which the certificate is given, and
(b) she is, immediately before the first day of maternity leave, an employed contributor, or it is certified by her employer that she may resume employment after the end of the period of maternity leave, where such employment is an employment specified in Part I of the First Schedule and is not an employment specified in Part II of that Schedule, and
(c) she satisfies the contribution conditions in section 25.
(2) In this Chapter ‘maternity leave’ means the period for which maternity allowance is payable in accordance with paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (3), as the case may be.
(3) Subject to this Chapter, the period for which maternity allowance is payable shall be—
(a) the period of maternity leave to which a woman is entitled by virtue of section 8 of the Maternity Protection of Employees Act, 1981 (including any extension of that period by virtue of section 12 of that Act), or
(b) in the case of a woman not so entitled to maternity leave, the period of 14 consecutive weeks beginning on such day as she selects, being not later than 4 weeks before the end of the expected week of confinement and shall end on such day as she selects, being not earlier than 4 weeks after the end of the expected week of confinement, but—
(i) if the woman who is entitled to the allowance dies, the allowance shall not be payable for any subsequent week, or
(ii) if the date of confinement occurs after the expected week of confinement, the allowance shall, subject to subparagraph (i), be payable until the expiration of the fourth week after the week in which that date occurs:
Provided that, in any case where the date of confinement occurs after the expected date of confinement, the period for which maternity allowance is payable shall not exceed 18 weeks.
(4) Regulations may modify subsections (1) and (3) in relation to cases where—
(a) it is certified by a registered medical practitioner or otherwise to the satisfaction of the Minister that a woman has been confined, and
(b) no such certificate as is referred to in subsection (1) (a) has been given.
(5) For the purposes of this section, a Sunday shall not in any week be treated as a day of entitlement to a maternity allowance and, accordingly, the amount payable by way of such allowance for any other day of a week shall be one-sixth of the appropriate weekly rate, subject to the total amount being paid at any time by virtue of this subsection being rounded up to the nearest 10p where it is a multiple of 5p but not also a multiple of 10p, and being rounded to the nearest 10p where it is not a multiple of 5p or 10p.
(6) For the purposes of subsection (3) (a), where the employment ceases (whether due to the death of the employer or otherwise) during the period of maternity leave, the woman shall continue to be treated as if the event which caused the cesser of employment had not occurred.
(7) Regulations may provide for requiring an employer to furnish such information as may be required for the purposes of determining a claim for maternity allowance.
Conditions for receipt.
25.—(1) The contribution conditions for maternity allowance are—
(a) (i) that the claimant has qualifying contributions in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks in the period beginning with her entry into insurance and ending immediately before the first day of maternity leave, and
(ii) that the claimant has qualifying contributions or credited contributions in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks in the last complete contribution year before the beginning of the benefit year in which the first day of maternity leave occurs or in a subsequent complete contribution year before the first dayof maternity leave, or
(b) that the claimant has qualifying contributions in respect of not less than 39 contribution weeks in the 12 months immediately preceding the first day of maternity leave.
(2) Regulations may provide for modifications of the contribution conditions set out in subsection (1) but, where such regulations are proposed to be made, a draft thereof shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each such House.
Rate of allowance.
26.—(1) Subject to this Act, the weekly rate of maternity allowance shall be an amount equal to—
(a) 70 per cent. of the reckonable weekly earnings of the woman to whom the allowance is payable in the income tax year prescribed for the purposes of this section, or
(b) such amount as shall be prescribed,
whichever is the greater.
(2) The percentage specified in subsection (1) (a) may be varied by regulations having regard to—
(a) movements in the annual average earnings of women, and
(b) the imposition or variation of statutory deductions from or charges on earnings.
(3) In this section ‘reckonable weekly earnings’ means the average amount, calculated in accordance with regulations, of reckonable earnings received in a week up to such limit as stands prescribed for the purposes of section 73.
27.—Regulations may provide for disqualifying a woman for receiving a maternity allowance if—
(a) during the period for which the allowance is payable, she engages in any occupation other than domestic duties in her own household, or
(b) she fails, without good cause, to attend for or to submit herself to any medical examination that may be required in accordance with the regulations.
28.—(1) In this Chapter—
(a) ‘confinement’ means labour resulting inthe issue of a living child, or labour after 28 weeks of pregnancy resulting in the issue of a child whether alive or dead, and ‘confined’ shall be construed accordingly, and
(b) references to the date of the confinement shall be taken as referring, where labour begun on one day results in the issue of a child on another day, to the date of the issue of the child or, if a woman is confined of twins or a greater number of children, to the date of the issue of the last of them.
(2) In deciding whether or not to make an order under section 21A of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976 (inserted by the Status of Children Act, 1987 ), in so far as any such order relates to the payment of expenses incidental to the birth of a child, the Circuit Court or the District Court, as the case may be, shall not take into consideration the fact that the mother of the child is entitled to maternity allowance.”.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, a woman who becomes entitled to maternity allowance payable by virtue of section 24 (2) (a) of the Principal Act before the commencement of this section, shall continue to be entitled to such allowance until the end of that period of entitlement to maternity allowance.
(3) Section 21 of the Act of 1991 is hereby repealed.
(5) This section shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister may appoint by order or orders and different days may be so appointed for different provisions of this section.