The Government recently published the Maternity Protection (Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas) Bill 2013 which provides for maternity leave in respect of any female person who is (a) elected to and currently a member of Dail Eireann and shall include the Cathaoirleach of Dail Eireann or (b) elected or appointed to and currently a member of Seanad Eireann.
Section 3 provides that a pregnant member of the Houses of the Oireachtas will be entitled to maternity leave for a period not less than (a) 18 consecutive weeks or (b) 18 weeks part of which is postponed in accordance with Section 6.
Section 4 sets out maternity leave procedures which provides that entitlement to maternity leave is subject to a pregnant member of the Houses of the Oireachtas having as soon as is reasonably practicable and not later than 4 weeks before commencement of maternity leave notified in writing to the Cathaoirleach of whichever house she is a member of, of her intention to take maternity leave. In addition medical or other appropriate certificate confirming the pregnancy and specifying the expected date upon which maternity leave is due to commence. Section 4(3) provides that any period of time when the Houses of the Oireachtas are not sitting due to vacation shall be assessed in calculating the minimum period of maternity leave.
Section 5 provides for a period of additional maternity leave of (a) 8 consecutive weeks commencing immediately after the end of her maternity leave or (b) 8 weeks all or part of which is postponed in accordance with Section 6.
Section 6 provides that a member of the Houses of the Oireachtas who is on maternity leave or additional maternity leave, if the child in connection with whose birth she is on, or is entitled to, is hospitalised, request in writing to the Cathaoirleach to postpone
(a) part of the maternity leave
(b) part of the maternity leave and the additional maternity leave, or
(c) the additional maternity leave or part of it
The member is entitled to a response within 14 days of receiving the request provided any medical documentation sought is provided.
Section 7 provides that a member of the Oireachtas who is on maternity leave or additional maternity leave is entitled to continue to receive full pay as a member of the Oireachtas although no expense claims in respect of her work as a member of the Oireachtas shall be paid unless lawfully accrued during her maternity or additional maternity leave.