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What are the rules that apply to Maternity Benefits?

Before you can start maternity leave, you need to provide your employer with at least two weeks notice. You also need to provide medical documentation confirming your pregnant status. Should you decide to take the additional 16 weeks leave, you need to give your employer at least four weeks' notice. If you prefer, both these notices can be handed over at the same time.
Early birth – more than four weeks early – means you need to provide your employer with notice for leave within 14 days of delivery. Doing so will make your notice period legally compliant.
If your doctor prescribes that you need to start maternity leave for medical reasons, the earlier date on your medical certificate applies. Doing so deems you compliant with the notice requirements, as is described in Section 11 of the Maternity Protection Act 1994.
Your employer needs at four weeks' written notice of your intended date to return to work. All notice requirements need full compliance. Failure to comply with them, may affect your rights and benefits. Remember to inform your employer of your intention to postpone your maternity leave; bear in mind that your employer can refuse your application.

More questions

There really is no such thing as starting saving too early for your child’s future. 
When you become a parent it is more important than ever to build a nest egg to cope with any unexpected expenses such as doctor’s bills or expensive car or home repairs.
Updating your will (or putting one together) is a necessity when you have a baby
Applications for Maternity Benefit are handled by the Department of Social Protection.
Although you are entitled to maternity leave, and can qualify for Maternity Benefits, these are subject to specific rules.
If you thought going back to work, or being a stay-at-home parent were your only options, think again.
Plan your weekends well and do the necessary preparation during the week to ensure that there is time for fun – not just chores – on Saturday and Sunday.
It is important to remember that you are only human and it is impossible to have a perfectly balanced work and home life. Unexpected things do happen and it is at times like these that you should simply take a deep breath, relax and accept that you are doing the best you can.
Join up with other stay-at-home moms and dads in your area. Getting together with them regularly will make up for the adult company you are so accustomed to in the workplace.
It’s surprisingly common for stay-at-home mums to resent having to stay home and care for children.