New maternity leave pay for independents in France

Paid maternity leave for independent workers has been lengthened so that it now covers the same number of weeks as for salaried employees.

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The minimum duration is eight weeks but it can be taken for up to 16 weeks. Before this year, micro-entrepreneurs and other self-employed workers were entitled to only 10 weeks in total.

Leave has to start two weeks before the birth due date and the claimant must stop work entirely for at least an eight-week period.

From the third child onward, mothers are allowed 26 weeks (for twins it is 34 weeks and for triplets and above 46 weeks).

Most self-employed workers will receive a set sum of €3,377 (amount fixed for 2019) given in two payments, whether they take eight or 16 weeks of leave.

The first is before the birth and the second six weeks after.

Maternity leave is also authorised for an adoption, when the sum is €1,688.50.

The worker must have earned an average of more than €3,919.20 a year for the previous three years to receive an allocation forfaitaire de repos maternel. This base calculation will change next year, it has been announced, but it is not yet known how.

If a pregnant woman is the head of her own business, with the title of chef d’entreprise, she can claim €55.51 a day on top of the set sum.

If her partner is an artisan, shopkeeper or chef d’entreprise, and she runs the management and administrative side of the business and, in that case, has acquired the status of conjoint collaborateur, she too can claim an extra daily payment of €55.51.

Previously, the claimant has had to be up to date with social security payments to qualify but this is no longer required.

To apply, you need to contact your state health care insurance provider.

Gauthier Lannuzel, an independent midwife in Brest, said this was an important step forward, which would be beneficial to the health of both mothers and babies.

He said: “Before, if I advised a mother to stop work because she or the baby had a health problem, an independent worker might not do so because of fear of losing money.

“This puts all future mothers on a more equal footing.”