Self-employed to gain maternity and pension benefits under new EU law

Self-employed workers and their spouses will enjoy better social protection – including the right to maternity leave for the first time – under new legislation endorsed by EU governments this week.

The new rules extend national social security provisions for the self-employed to their spouses working in the business, including wives working on the family farm, in their own right. It also provides for a period of maternity leave to be granted to self-employed women/spouses in line with minimum EU standards.

The Government now has two years to transpose the Directive (which only sets outline standards) into national law. The choice of funding method will be a matter for each country to decide.

"This new law makes real improvements to the rights of self-employed workers and their partners, in particular women," said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship and Vice-President of the European Commission.

"It will help them to better balance work and family life and encourage more women to become entrepreneurs – which is good for the economy too."

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