The Minister for Finance has said he is still examining if there is a way of changing the rules around the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to allow women returning from maternity leave to become eligible for the scheme.

The women affected are those who were not receiving a top-up from their employer while getting the state maternity benefit and therefore were not on the company payroll on 29 February, as is required in the emergency legislation.

Anne O'Connell, Employment Law Solicitor, said the situation around maternity leave has caused a lot of confusion among employers and employees.

"It seems that the legislation was to avoid people that may have been laid off before the legislation came in but in doing that it has impacted on a number of other employees," she said.

It also affects people who are on paternity leave, illness benefit or off-pay leave, she said.

Paschal Donohoe said the scheme is being administered in a manner that is fully compliant with all relevant legislation and that no discriminatory treatment of workers arises.

The Finance Minister said pregnancy and maternity leave is a special protected period and employers are obliged to honour their obligations.

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, he said: "The description that we have of payroll in the primary legislation and the date has created this issue."

He said discussions are taking place between the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners on the matter.

New mother Vicky Kavanagh has said there is a lot of confusion and a lack of clarity about what entitlements are available after maternity leave.

The first-time mother was due to return to work on Monday, but lost her job in event management because of Covid-19.

Her application for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment was initially refused, but the issue has been resolved and she will receive it next week.

She said the whole process has been extremely confusing and there is not enough clarity on what supports are being offered to mothers after maternity leave.