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Social Costs

Social Costs

UCD operates a Social Costs scheme to spread certain employment costs that occur on an irregular basis over time and across units to enable units more easily plan for and manage such costs. A levy is charged on pay costs each month to create a fund, which then covers certain costs when they occur. The scheme is part of our internal financial model and relates to employer's costs only - employees do not pay a levy and costs are reimbursed to UCD units, not to individuals.

Separate Research and non-Research levies and funds are maintained.


The costs covered are Redundancy, Maternity Leave Replacement and Long Term Sick Leave. These costs are either charged directly to the Fund, or are charged to the local unit and reimbursed by the Fund.

Costs of Hourly and Occasional Staff are outside of the scope of the scheme – no levy is applied to these pay costs and the social costs of these staff are not covered by the scheme.
The scheme relates to the core activities of the university, not to Ancillary units.

Costs Covered

The scheme covers incurred costs of redundancy (both statutory and ex gratia if applicable, long term sick leave and statutory paid maternity leave replacement. Due to the individualised nature of academic work and in order to provide flexibility to Heads of School in replacing faculty on maternity leave, and also in supporting their return to work, a fixed payment is made automatically rather than reimbursing incurred costs. The incurred costs of staff maternity leave replacements are covered, including if relevant additional pension costs of an Employment Control Framework non-core replacement.


As far as possible, costs are covered by the scheme automatically, without the need for specific claims to be submitted.
Redundancy costs are charged directly to the fund. Maternity Leave replacement costs for the main body of staff are automatically be paid in advance once a replacement is appointed, based on electronic PAFs submitted in the normal way. Long Term Sickness costs will be automatically reimbursed quarterly in arrears.
Manual claims may need to be filed in exceptional circumstances. These are prepared by your Finance Manager and will be processed quarterly.

Social Costs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the levy rate ?

The levy rate is:

  • Research 1.25%
  • Main Levy 1.25%

The rate is applied to pensionable pay codes and so hourly pay or payments for additional work are not included either in the calculation of the levy or in the calculation of payments from the fund. Research Scholarship payments are not included within scope. The rate is applied to fully-loaded costs i.e. inclusive of pension and PRSI costs.

When is the levy rate reviewed ?

The levy rate is reviewed each year as part of the university financial planning cycle. Amendments to rates are applied at the start of the relevant financial year, in October. The rate is approved by the UMT.

What accounts is the levy calculated on ?

The levy for the Research Social Costs Scheme applies to Researcher Pay Costs (account 91900) charged to a Research Account. Note that this account excludes Scholarship costs. The levy is charged to the relevant School, not directly to the Research Account.

<<Definition of accounts for main levy here.>>

Why are maternity leaves for Faculty and Staff handled differently ?

When staff go on maternity leave, the incurred replacement costs are funded from the scheme. An automatic payment is made to the School when a faculty member goes on maternity leave. The different treatment is because it is frequently not realistic to replace the research aspect of an academic's role and so it may be appropriate to provide extended teaching replacement. An automatic payment provides flexibility to a Head in meeting the requirements of the school and of the returning faculty member.

How much is the automatic payment when a faculty member goes on maternity leave ?

From October 2023 €50,000 (Previously : January 2021 €46,000) is transferred to the school when a faculty member goes on maternity leave [as triggered by the submission of a maternity replacement Online Hiring Form]. Formerly the Social Costs scheme set a cap for replacement costs of faculty maternity leaves at the midpoint of the Assistant Professor scale. Broadly, the €50,000 has been set as the maximum formerly paid, taking into account holiday and other leave and an assumption that non-core employer's costs will be due. This amount is in addition to the €500 grant that will be also be given to the School/Unit, to assist an employee returning from Maternity/Adoptive leave, as described below.

How is the automatic payment initialised?

The automatic payment is initialised by the completion of the Online Hiring Form (OHF). The form should be completed as a Maternity Replacement and the Job Number should be included on the OHF prior to the authorisation process stating.  Completed OHF Maternity replacements transfers to schools are completed quarterly in Mid December, March, June and September. If there is no OHF replacement then a manual claim should be submitted via your Finance Manager

Is there a grant to assist employees returning from Maternity/Adoptive leave?

Social fund payments to Schools and Units will automatically incorporate an additional €500 to assist employees returning from Maternity/Adoptive leave. Schools/Units will liaise locally with employees regarding availing of the grant. The grant will normally be availed of in the 12-18 month period following the return from Maternity/Adoptive leave and will be specifically for the purpose of putting supports in place to facilitate the transition of the employee back into the work place and re-establish their careers. 

What if a staff maternity leave replacement is for a longer period e.g. to cover unpaid leave ?

A unit is free to appoint staff maternity leave replacements for longer than the period of statutory paid leave, but only the period of statutory paid leave will be covered from the fund. The unit rather than the fund will bear the costs of any replacement for the period replacing unpaid leave.

What if the maternity leave replacement for a staff member is at a higher or lower cost than the person going on leave (the incumbent) ?

Generally, a replacement will be on the same scale as the incumbent, and the actual costs of the replacement will be covered. Due to differences in points on scale, these costs may be a little higher or a little lower than the incumbent’s costs. Different versions of scales (e.g. pre-95 and post-95) will be treated for the purposes of the scheme as the same scale.

What if the replacement for a staff member on maternity leave is appointed to a different scale?

Where a replacement is appointed to a different scale, at a lower cost, the cost of replacement will be paid automatically. If special additional circumstances apply and are agreed in advance with the College Principal or Vice President, a supplementary manual claim may be submitted.
The total payment will be capped at the cost of the incumbent for the period of paid statutory leave.
Where a replacement is appointed to a different scale, at a higher cost, the incumbent’s costs will be paid automatically. The payment from the fund will be capped at the incumbent’s costs and it is not envisaged that any supplementary manual claim will be paid. Similar considerations apply where either the incumbent or replacement is appointed on a nonscale basis.

How will Annual Leave and Public Holidays be treated ?

Annual Leave accrues during the period of statutory paid maternity leave and is generally taken immediately after the period of statutory leave. Annual Leave and public holidays will generally accrue both for the incumbent and for the replacement and so it is appropriate that the fund will cover this period of leave in addition to the strict statutory paid leave period.

While the exact number of leave days and public holidays may differ a little from case to case, a period of 3 weeks is considered to be a practical average. The statutory leave period will therefore be deemed to be 29 weeks (26 strict statutory plus 3 weeks leave/public holidays) when calculating payments under the Scheme.

What about the State Maternity pay ?

The Maternity Benefit payable by the university to an individual is, in almost all cases, reduced by the amount of Social Welfare Maternity Benefit. The cost will therefore be deemed to be reduced by Social Welfare Maternity Benefit when calculating payments under the Scheme. If deduction of the Social Welfare Maternity Benefit does not apply to the incumbent, or if any additional special circumstances apply, they should be the subject of a manual claim.

What will happen if a maternity leave replacement is not a straightforward 1 for 1 replacement, e.g. if Tutors or Occasional Lecturers are deployed as part of the replacement ?

The scheme aims to allow schools and support units to fully relieve members of staff on maternity leave of their operational responsibilities, and it is expected that generally a direct replacement will be made. However, in exceptional circumstances it may be appropriate to partially replace maternity leave via a post and to supplement this in another manner. Heads of School or Support Unit, working in association with HR Partners, are in the best position to take account of local circumstances in replacing staff on maternity leave. Such plans must be agreed in advance with College Principals.
It is not possible for such costs to be taken into account as part of the automatic payment; where applicable they should be the subject of a supplementary manual claim. Manual claims must be submitted by College Principals /Vice Presidents and will confirm that the Principal/VP is satisfied that the cost is an appropriate maternity leave replacement cost, that it complies with the Social Costs Scheme and that it has been incurred. As stated above, claims will be capped and the cap refers to the totality of payments for a maternity leave replacement, regardless of whether the payments are made automatically in advance, in arrears following a manual claim, or both.

Will payments from the Fund be single payments or monthly payments ?

Single Payments for the full amount are made. Any necessary manual adjustments are made at the end of each quarter to take account of any special circumstances.

Are payments made in advance or arrears ?

Maternity payments are processed quarterly, based on Online Hiring Forms. For automatic payment, it is essential that the Online Hiring Form indicates that it relates to a maternity replacement.

Long-term sick leave is processed quarterly. Long-term sick leave is calculated on a rolling 3-year basis and delays in reporting sick leave and/or in categorising the leave may affect the timing of payment. Each quarter's processing includes a look-back for the year to date so that any errors may be addressed.

Where will payments be made – to a specific cost centre ?

Payments will be made to the cost centre where the relevant costs were incurred.

Will maternity replacement costs be charged to my unit or direct to the Fund ?

Replacement staff will be hired in the normal way, via the PAF and RAF systems. Such posts will be handled in the standard way, with payroll costs being charged to the local unit. Reimbursement from the Social Costs Fund will be to the relevant cost centre in that unit.

Research maternity leave replacement costs will be charged to the Research Account and on completion of leave will be transferred. Costs to be covered by the Social Costs Fund will be charged to the Fund, with any excess charged to the School.

Will redundancy be charged to my unit or direct to the Fund ?

For Research staff, redundancy payments will be charged to the Research Account and then transferred to the Social Costs Fund if appropriate. For other staff the redundancy payments will be charged directly to the Social Costs Fund.

Will sick leave be charged to my unit or direct to the Fund ?

Sick leave costs will continue to be charged to the relevant local cost centre. Payments from the Fund to reimburse costs will be made quarterly, to the cost centre where the sick leave costs were charged.

What differences arise for the Research Social Costs Scheme?

The levy for the Research Social Costs Scheme applies to Researcher Pay Costs charged to a Research Account (account 91900). Note that this account excludes scholarship costs. The levy is charged to the relevant School, not directly to the Research Account.

In the case of Redundancy for Research staff, the cost is initially charged to the Research Account. Depending on the specific funding agency and grant terms, the redundancy costs may be charged to external funders; in other cases, the UCD Research Finance Office will transfer the costs to the social costs fund. Where the costs are covered by the external funders, a rebate of levy contributions equal to the cost of the redundancy will be paid to the school.

On completion of Research maternity leave replacements, the Research Finance Office will transfer the costs of statutory paid leave replacement to the Social Costs Fund. Any excess (e.g. covering unpaid leave) that is not allowable by the funders, will be charged to the School.

What can I do if I feel that a payment from the Fund is incorrect or has not taken all of the relevant information into account ?

Manual claims may be submitted where the automatic payment does not take into account all relevant circumstances.

What is the format for a Manual Claim?

College Principals/Vice Presidents must satisfy themselves that the basis for a manual claim is appropriate and complies with the Social Costs Scheme. Once satisfied, they request their Finance Manager to submit a manual claim.

UCD Finance Office

1st Floor Tierney Building University College Dublin Belfield Dublin 4 Ireland
T: +353 1 716 7777