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April 13, 2023

Paternity Benefit in Ireland: Eligibility, Pay, How to Apply

Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a public health service payment for employed or self-employed fathers. Learn about its payment rates, how to apply, and more.

Aine Kavanagh

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Aine Kavanagh

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Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a social welfare payment for individuals on paternity leave.

It provides monetary support to ease the burden of taking unpaid leave while caring for your newborn child.

But who qualifies for Paternity Benefit? How much does it pay?

And how do you apply for Paternity Benefit?

Let’s find out.

What Is Paternity Benefit?

Paternity Benefit in Ireland is a public health service payment for people on paternity leave, per the Paternity Leave And Benefit Act 2016.

It helps fathers care for their newborns, especially when they take unpaid paternity leave from work.

You can receive this benefit if you’re employed or self-employed AND meet the minimum number of Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI) contributions. (More on this soon.)

When Should You Apply for Paternity Benefit?

Generally, you must apply for Paternity Benefit by four weeks before your paternity leave begins.

However, you must apply at least 12 weeks before your paternity leave if you’re self-employed.

Who Can Qualify for Paternity Benefit?

To claim Paternity Benefit, you must be a relevant parent, meaning you are one of the following:

  • The birth father of the child

  • The spouse, cohabitant, or civil partner of the mother of the child

  • The parent of a donor-conceived child

  • The parent who isn’t the qualifying adopter of the child

But you must also fulfil these conditions:

1. You’re on Certified Paternity Leave from Work

To receive certified paternity leave from work:

If you’re employed, you must provide your employer with a doctor’s certificate confirming your baby’s expected due date or actual birth date. Your employer must then complete a PB2: Employer Certificate for Paternity Benefit Form to confirm your entitlement to paternity leave.

If you are self-employed, a doctor must complete a PB3: Medical Certificate for Paternity Benefit form to certify your baby’s due date or birth date.

In the case of adoptions, you must give your employer a certificate of placement that confirms you adopted the child. For intercountry adoption, you must submit a declaration of eligibility and suitability in relation to the child, plus any additional particulars in writing of the actual or expected placement date.

Submit these documents and forms when applying for Paternity Benefit.

When should I start my paternity leave?

Start your paternity leave any time during the first 26 weeks after the birth or adoption of your baby.

But remember:

You must apply at least four weeks (or 12 weeks if you’re self-employed) before the day you plan to start your paternity leave.

2. You’re Covered by Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI)

To qualify for Paternity Benefit, you must have a certain number of PRSI contributions on your social record and come under one of these PRSI contribution classes:

Class A: Individuals employed in industrial, commercial, and service sectors earning €38 or more weekly. This class also includes public and civil servants employed from 6 April 1995.

Class E: Ministers of religion employed by the Representative Body of the Church of Ireland.

Class H: Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and enlisted personnel of the Defence Forces. However, members of the Defence Forces paying PRSI Class H contributions cannot avail of Paternity Benefit while in service.

Class S: Self-employed people, certain company directors, people doing business independently, and people with investment and rental income.

How Many PRSI Contributions Do You Need?

If you’re employed, you must have either:

  • At least 39 weeks of paid PRSI contributions in the 12-month period before the first day of your paternity leave. OR

  • At least 39 weeks of PRSI paid since first starting work. Plus, at least 39 weeks of PRSI contributions credited or paid in the relevant tax year (two years before the benefit year) or the tax year after the relevant tax year. OR

  • At least 26 weeks of PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year and the tax year before the relevant tax year.

For instance, if you’re going on paternity leave in 2023, 2021 is the relevant tax year, 2022 is the year after the relevant tax year, and 2020 is the year before the relevant tax year.

If you’re self-employed, you should have either:

At least 52 weeks of paid PRSI contributions at Class S in the relevant tax year. OR

At least 52 weeks of paid PRSI contributions at Class S in the tax year before or after the relevant tax year.

For example, if you’re going on paternity leave in 2023, 2021 is the relevant tax year — and you can qualify with 52 weeks of paid contributions in either 2020 or 2022.

These contribution conditions are the same as those for Maternity Benefit.

Curious about maternity leave and Maternity Benefit?

Read our in-depth guide on Maternity Benefit for further information.

PRSI Class S contributions (for a particular year) aren’t awarded until you’ve paid the total tax or income tax due for that year. You must pay your PRSI contributions and tax to qualify for Paternity Benefit.

That’s all about how to qualify for Paternity Benefit.

Now, let’s explore the rate of payment for Paternity Benefit.

Paternity Benefit Payment

Paternity Benefit payments are transferred directly into your personal bank account, building society account, or employer’s bank account.

However, the rate of Paternity Benefit can depend on certain factors:

  • If you’re eligible for full-rate Paternity Benefit, you’ll receive €262 a week for two weeks. It’s the same amount as the weekly rate of Maternity Benefit payments.

  • You’ll be entitled to half-rate Paternity Benefit if you’re on certain other social welfare payments. These social welfare payments include:

    • One-Parent Family Payment

    • Widow’s and Surviving Civil Partner’s (Contributory and Non-Contributory) Pensions

    • Death Benefit by way of a Widower’s/Widow’s/Surviving Civil Partner’s or Dependent Parents’ Pension

  • If you provide full-time care to another person, you can get half-rate Carer’s Allowance along with your full-rate Paternity Benefit. You can also get full-rate Paternity Benefit and Working Family Payment (WFP) simultaneously if you qualify for both.

  • If you have dependants, the Paternity Benefit rate (excluding dependant increases) paid would depend on the Illness Benefit rate (including dependant increases) you’d receive if you were absent from work due to illness. The higher of the two rates would be applicable.

  • EU and non-EU citizens can get two weeks of Paternity Benefit while on holiday out of Ireland. However, you must inform the Paternity Benefit Section of your intended absence to receive the payments.

Some employers may offer paid paternity leave in return for having the Paternity Benefit paid directly to them. Check your employment contract to know what applies to you.

But wait!

As an employer, wouldn’t you want your employees to be cared for wherever they are?

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When Is Paternity Benefit Paid?

Paternity Benefit is paid for the two weeks when you’re on paternity leave.

However, this period can be preponed or postponed in certain situations like:

A. Premature Births

If your child is born prematurely (before the start of your paternity leave and benefit begin), you can change the leave and benefit dates.

You’ll have to send a letter from your employer confirming the new leave and benefit dates, plus a letter from the hospital confirming your child’s date of birth.

Submit these documents to the Paternity Benefit section of Ireland’s Department of Social Protection (DSP).

Are you self-employed?

Then, you can write a letter confirming your new leave and benefit dates and submit it with a doctor’s or hospital’s letter confirming the child’s birth date to the Paternity Benefit Section.

B. Stillbirths and Miscarriages

You’re entitled to paternity leave and benefit if there’s a stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week of pregnancy (from the start of the 25th week).

To claim the benefit, you need to get a letter from your doctor confirming:

  • The expected date of birth of the baby

  • The actual date of birth of the baby and

  • The number of weeks of pregnancy

You must then submit the letter with the Paternity Benefit application form once your leave is certified by your employer (or self-certified if you’re self-employed).

C. Hospitalisation of the Baby

If the event of hospitalisation of your child, you can postpone your paternity leave and benefit (or whatever portion is remaining) for up to six months.

If you’re an employee, you must submit a letter from your employer confirming the new leave dates to the Paternity Benefit Section of the Department of Social Protection.

Similarly, if you’re self-employed, you must submit a letter stating your new leave dates and a hospital letter confirming your child’s date of birth.

Now you might be thinking… Is Paternity Benefit taxable?

Taxation of Paternity Benefit

Like any other social welfare payment, Paternity Benefit is taxable. However, it isn’t subject to PRSI and Universal Social Charge (USC).

What’s the taxation rate?

It depends on personal circumstances plus the tax reliefs and tax credits you’re claiming.

The Department of Social Protection pays Paternity Benefit without any tax deduction. However, it notifies Revenue of the amount of Paternity Benefit applicable for tax purposes.

If you’re an employee and pay taxes through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system, here’s what can happen:

  • Your employer can calculate and deduct Income Tax, Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI), and Universal Social Charge (USC) from each weekly payslip. Your employer must report these deductions to Revenue on or before the pay date.

  • Revenue will automatically reduce your annual tax credits and rate bands to account for the tax payable on your Paternity Benefit.

    Tax credits are a form of government relief that reduces your payable tax. And a rate band is the amount of income that will be taxed at a particular percentage (either 20% or 40%).

But here’s the thing:

If you choose to have your Paternity Benefit paid to your employer, you may be entitled to a PRSI refund. Your employer must complete the Employee Refund of PRSI Contributions Application Form (PRSI REF1).

If you’re self-employed and pay taxes through the self-assessment system, you must include details of all Paternity Benefit payments received in your annual tax return.

What about taxation for other benefits?

The same tax rules apply for Maternity, Adoptive, and Health and Safety Benefits.

How to Apply for Paternity Benefit

Send your Paternity Benefit application form at least 4-12 weeks (depending on your employment situation) before you intend to go on paternity leave.

Follow these simple steps to submit your Paternity Benefit application form:

Step 1: Complete the online application for Paternity Benefit at MyWelfare.ie (You’ll need a verified MyGovID account and a Public Services Card linked to your mobile number).

Step 2: Complete the form and upload the necessary documents. After successfully submitting the form, you can track your application’s progress on the website.


Send in a postal application with the relevant docs to:

Paternity Benefit Section

Address: Department of Social Protection, McCarter’s Road, Ardaravan, Buncrana, Co. Donegal, F93 CH79

Number: 01 4715898

LoCall: 0818 690690

What can you do if your Paternity Benefit claim is declined?

Write an appeal to [email protected] or mail it to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. However, you must appeal within 21 days of the original decision.

Other Entitlements You Receive as a Parent

These are some other entitlements you can receive as a father:

1. Paternity Leave

We already mentioned that to be eligible for Paternity Benefit, you must apply for two weeks’ paternity leave in the first six months of the birth of your child or adoption placement.

You need to apply in writing to your employer at least 4 weeks before taking your paternity leave. If you’re self-employed, apply at least 12 weeks in advance.

What should you include in your application?
A doctor’s certificate confirming the baby’s due date or birth certificate (if applying after your child’s birth).

If you’re adopting a child, the application should confirm the date of your child’s placement.

2. Parent’s Leave

Parents of children under two years (or adoptive children under two years of placement) can take seven weeks of Parent’s Leave.

You must take the leave in one period of seven consecutive weeks or separate periods of full weeks.

You can also claim Parent’s Benefit while on this leave if you have enough paid PRSI contributions. It’s paid at a weekly rate of €262.

3. Parental Leave

Parents (both) or guardians of children under 12 years can take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to look after their children. The leave is applicable for each child before their 12th birthday.

To avail of parental leave, you must have worked for your employer for a year. The application must also be confirmed and signed at least four weeks before your leave begins.

It can be taken as one continuous period of leave or two separate blows of at least six weeks (with a gap of 10 weeks between the two parental leave periods).

You can also use your parental leave to ask your employer for a more flexible working arrangement — e.g. taking one or two days off from work per week — though they are not required to agree to it.

What if you have multiple eligible children?

The leave must be limited to 26 weeks within a 12-month period. However, you can take more than 26 weeks in a year if you have twins or triplets.

Lastly, parents who take parental leave can receive a PRSI Credit for each week of leave taken.

4. Adoptive Benefit

Adoptive Benefit is a payment offered to adoptive parents who are:

  • On certified adoptive leave from work.

  • Covered by social insurance and meet the required PRSI contributions

If you're self-employed, you must submit a certificate of placement or declaration of suitability to your employer or the Adoptive Benefit section of the DSP.

You can get up to 24 weeks of Adoptive Benefit if your adoptive leave begins on the date of adoption. It’s paid at a weekly rate of €262.

The catch?

Only one parent in a couple can claim Adoptive Benefit. The other parent can make a claim for Paternity Benefit.

Moreover, you must apply for it at least six weeks (12 weeks if you are self-employed) before the start of your adoptive leave.

Having doubts about taking your paternity leave?

Common Concerns About Taking Paternity Leave

According to a report published by the Irish Examiner in 2020, nearly 50% of fathers entitled to paternity leave and Paternity Benefit don’t claim it.

Why are fathers reluctant to take paternity leave?

It may be because they are worried about losing their jobs, especially in sectors with high employee turnover rates. It also comes down to the work culture of companies, where it’s either considered acceptable to take paternity leave or not.

However, taking Paternity Benefit can help you support your family while you take unpaid leave from work.

You’re also awarded PRSI credits for each week of Paternity Benefit claimed.

What’s more?

Paternity leave is protective leave.

You’re protected from penalisation during the entire period of paternity leave. That means it’s not excusable for your company to fire or suspend you for taking your period of absence.

3 FAQs About Paternity Benefit and Leave

Have more questions?

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about Paternity Benefit.

1. Can I Change the Start Date of my Paternity Leave and Benefit?

Yes, you can change the start date or commencement of paternity leave and benefit if there’s a change in your child’s birth date or day of placement.

The postponement or change of your claim dates for premature births, miscarriages and stillbirths, or hospitalisations. You can even do this if you fall sick before your leave starts.

2. Can I Take Paid Leave for Antenatal Classes?

Yes, you can take paid leave from work to attend the two final antenatal classes before your child's birth.

But here’s the deal:

To be entitled to the leave, you must notify your employer in writing at least two weeks before the antenatal classes begin. The notification should outline the dates and times of the classes.

3. Can I Take Leave on the Day My Wife Is in Labour?

Yes, though, it won’t be counted as a part of your paternity leave, which can only start after your child's birth.

You might be able to take the leave as Force Majeure leave or annual leave.

Upgrade Your Employees’ Benefits with Yonder

Paternity Benefit is a supportive aid for many fathers on paternity leave in Ireland.

Unfortunately, not everyone knows about the benefits they’re entitled to or the rights that protect them while they take it.

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Although you may not be able to manage Paternity Benefit for your working dads, you can put their minds at ease by leaving health insurance and retirement benefits to Yonder.

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Aine Kavanagh

Article written by

Aine Kavanagh

👋🏻 Hi I'm Aine, Head of Customer Success at Yonder. Whether you're a Yonder customer, a Yonder user, or you're just browsing, I hope to help educate and empower those who want to know more about owning their own benefits, and building financial autonomy 📚

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