Press Release

Minister Harris welcomes maternity benefit changes for our foreign nurses and midwives

Minister for Health, Simon Harris today welcomed the announcement by Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar of an important change to Maternity Benefit rules which will benefit nursing and health sector staff from abroad who are working here. Now, for the first time, women who have had children, can leave the European Union for a short break and maintain their maternity benefit.

Minister Harris said “I am particularly pleased that  the flexibility on travelling abroad and retaining maternity benefits is being introduced at this time, allowing nurses and midwives from abroad who are working here to visit their home countries in the knowledge that they will not be penalised for doing so. Many of our nurses and midwives come from India and the Philippines and now they can introduce grandparents to their new grandchildren without losing their maternity benefit.

“My Department, together with the HSE and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, is currently engaged in discussions with the INMO and SIPTU nursing in relation to measures that will support the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives.

“One of the key issues that is being addressed is the need to put in place more flexible contractual arrangements designed to suit existing and new nurses and midwives in our healthcare services. The change being made to maintain the right to maternity benefits reflects the broader approach that must be adopted across nursing and midwifery, given that we compete in an international market for nurses and midwives. We must make Ireland as attractive a location as possible for nurses and midwives from abroad who may be thinking of coming here or are already here and would welcome the opportunity to return home for a period before resuming their posts after their maternity leave.”