Many women who are the main wage earner in households are requesting to return to work early from maternity Leave as they cannot afford to live on Maternity Pay and may have an unemployed partner. I always felt that an employee cannot waive his/her employment rights. Can these women return to work early from maternity Leave? What can an employer do when he/she receives such a request?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A ROI on 2 October 2012
Barry Walsh
McDowell Purcell
Issues covered:

Larger or well resourced employers often pay as normal or close to normal for the Basic Maternity Leave period (BML) of 26 weeks. However, this is not universally the case and the decision on whether to pay an employee during BML is a contractual choice for the employer and, as such, many smaller employers do not pay it, leaving the employee to rely on the State maternity pay. In the context here, the right to take the entire BML period is generally seen as an employee right and an employer obligation, rather than an employee obligation.

The relevant legislation - Maternity Protection Acts - states that the employee “shall be entitled to leave...” for the BML period rather than providing

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015

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Barry Walsh
McDowell Purcell

The main content of this article was provided by Barry Walsh. Contact telephone number is +353 1 828 0600 or email

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