Maternity Benefit is a payment made to women who are on maternity leave from work and covered by social insurance (PRSI). You should apply for the payment at least 6 weeks before you intend to go on maternity leave (12 weeks if you are self-employed). If you are already on certain social welfare payments then you may get half-rate Maternity Benefit.
Some employers will continue to pay an employee, in full, while she is on maternity leave and require her to have any Maternity Benefit paid to them. You should check your contract of employment to see what applies to you.
The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 introduced Paternity Benefit, together with statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks. The combined package of paternity leave and Paternity Benefit can start at any time within the first 6 months following birth or adoption of a child.
The provisions apply to births or adoptions since 1 September 2016.
(Source: Citizens Information)