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# motherhood - Thursday 5 August, 2010

A NEW DIRECTIVE by the European Commission is being introduced this week, which will allow self-employed women to receive state-funded maternity  leave.

The directive will mean that self-employed women can be granted state funded maternity pay. It can also be extended to women who rely on  self-employed partner working in a small business, such as a family farm, as these women have been identified as vulnerable.

Only one in three women in Europe is an entrepreneur, a fact that has been blamed partly on the lack of support given to working mothers.

Currently in Ireland,  self-employed women are required to have 52 weeks PRSI contributions in one tax year before they are allowed to receive maternity pay. A woman in this bracket would then receive 80% of her weekly gross income for that tax year – providing the amount is not more than the maximum payment of €270 per week.

If a woman does not have recorded earnings, she would qualify for the minimum amount: €225.80 per week.

Women are currently entitled to maternity leave in Ireland, however employers are not obliged to pay women who are on maternity leave.

Vice-President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, has said that the move will encourage a better balance between work and family life, and encourage more women to become entrepreneurs – which in turn will help to stimulate the economy.

The Irish government now has two years to decide how to fund and implement the standards outlined by the EU.

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