Directive on self-employed workers enters into force

On 4 August 2010, Directive 2010/41/EU on self-employed workers and assisting spouses has definitely entered into force. This legal provision will grant self-employed workers and their partners better social protection, including the right to maternity leave for the first time. Member states will have two years to transpose these new provisions to their respective national legal systems.

Back in May 2009, the European Parliament already called for stronger social protection of self-employed workers and assisting spouses, and it was one year later when this legal development was finally approved by the Chamber. The legal text which entered into force on 4 August has previously been endorsed by EU Member States and approved by the Council of the European Union in June 2010.

This Directive on self-employed workers and assisting spouses considerably improves the protection of female self-employed workers and assisting spouses or life partners of self-employed workers, particularly also in case of maternity. They are granted a maternity allowance and a leave of at least 14 weeks, should they choose to take it. At EU level, this is the first time a maternity allowance has been granted to self-employed workers.

The new rules also serve to encourage entrepreneurship in general and among women in particular. There is a currently a major gender gap in this area, as only 30% of entrepreneurs in Europe are women.

Once into force, Member States will have two years to introduce the Directive into their national laws, excepted some special cases where this period could be extended for another two years.

These provisions aiming to improve social protection of autonomous workers, come together with a set of legal developments in same sense, as it is the case for the new Directive improving the right to parental leave, or the Commission's proposal for a revised Directive on maternity leave that is currently in first reading by the European Parliament.