Self-employed workers are to gain maternity and pension benefits under a new EU law.
The Directive on self-employed workers and assisting spouses aims to improve the social protection rights of millions of women in the labour market and boost female entrepreneurship across the EU.
Self-employed workers and their partners will now have the right to maternity leave, under the Directive, which came into force this week.
The EU estimates that about 16% of the working population in Europe are self-employed, with many relying on the help of spouses and partners who work on an informal basis in small family businesses. These so-called “assisting spouses” are traditionally completely dependent on their partner and therefore at a high risk of poverty in the event of divorce, their partner’s death or bankruptcy.
Member states have two years to introduce the legislation into their national laws – ie, by 5 August 2012.
Key provisions of the Directive