Do self-employed parents get paid leave? Discover your rights!
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When you’re an entrepreneur, your social contributions usually yield fewer benefits than if you were an employee. But what about your social rights when you have a baby or adopt a child? Do you also have the right to paid leave as a parent? Rest assured that, as a self-employed parent, you’ll also get a financial boost.
- Maternity leave and benefits
- Adoption leave and benefits
- Birth and co-parent leave
- Other benefits for self-employed parents
Do I have the right to maternity leave when I’m self-employed?
As an entrepreneur, you’re entitled to maternity leave: a maximum of 12 weeks in total, or 13 for a multiple birth. Three of your 12 weeks of maternity leave are mandatory, and must be taken during:
- the 7 days before the estimated delivery date
- the 2 weeks following the birth
The remaining 9 (or 10) weeks can be taken when you wish, as long as you do so in blocks of 7 calendar days. After the birth, you have a period of 36 weeks to use these weeks of paid leave.
What benefits do I receive during my maternity leave?
- During the first 4 weeks of maternity leave, you receive €855.74 per week – half of this amount if you take part-time maternity leave.
- As from the 5th week, you receive €782.70 per week.
- If you adopt a child, your adoption benefit is €597.07 per week.
⚠️ Note: To be eligible for the above benefits, you must have paid your social contributions in the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy. For adoption, you need to have paid your social contributions in the quarter preceding the adoption.
Full-time or part-time maternity leave?
As a self-employed person, you can take your maternity leave as full-time or part-time leave. If you opt for full-time leave, you must completely stop your self-employed activity during your leave. If you choose to work part-time during your maternity leave, you get 18 weeks of half-time leave.
Extending your maternity leave
Does your baby need to stay in the hospital for more than 7 days immediately after birth? Then you can extend your maternity leave by the number of full additional weeks your baby stayed in the hospital – the first 7 days are not counted.
You can extend your maternity leave by a maximum of 24 weeks, or 48 weeks if you take your maternity leave part-time.
Adoption leave and benefits as a self-employed person
Are you adopting a child? Then, as a self-employed person, you are entitled to adoption leave. This amounts to a maximum of 6 weeks. In addition, if you are adopting together with a partner, you also get 3 extra weeks of adoption leave to be divided between both parents. In some situations, adoption leave can be extended. You receive €597.07 per week.
What about paternity/co-parent/birth leave?
Are you becoming a father or co-parent, and are self-employed in a primary activity or have the status of ‘assisting spouse’? Then you’re entitled to 20 days (or 40 half-days) of paid birth leave. If you take a maximum of 8 days of birth leave, you can apply for free service vouchers as compensation. Certain conditions apply, so check with your social security fund if you qualify for this leave.
Other benefits if you have a baby when you’re self-employed
- Exemption from social contributions: you don’t have to pay social contributions in the first quarter after your baby’s birth, while still retaining your social rights. The catch? Your optional pension contribution (VSPSS/PCLI/VAPZ) for that quarter is not deductible.
- Free service vouchers: if you return to work in your business after your maternity leave and pay the required social contributions for self-employment in a main activity, you get 105 free service vouchers for household help.
- Birth or maternity allowance: like employees, you get a nice bonus for each child that is born, or that you adopt:
💰 For Flanders, this is the Startbedrag, which amounts to €1,214.49 for each child born or adopted.
💰 In Wallonia and Brussels, this is the birth allowance or adoption allowance. In Wallonia, this amount to €1,314.61 for each child born or adopted, while in Brussels you receive €1,314.61 for your first child and €597.55 for subsequent children born or adopted.
The amounts stated in this article were last updated in December 2023. For the most up-to-date amounts, refer to Infino and choose your region.
Frequently asked questions about parenthood and being self-employed (FAQ)
As a self-employed person, you are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave. This includes 3 weeks of mandatory rest, to be taken during the 7 days before your due date and the 2 weeks after the birth.
No, as a self-employed person in Belgium, you unfortunately do not have the right to parental leave. Unlike employees, the self-employed are not entitled to the classic ‘time credit’ career break or parental leave. Fortunately, as a self-employed woman who gives birth, you are entitled to paid maternity leave. Self-employed fathers or co-parents are also entitled to paid birth leave.
Yes, the adoption leave for self-employed individuals is a maximum of 6 weeks. Moreover, you also receive a benefit during those weeks.
Self-employed fathers or co-parents have the right to paid birth leave upon the birth of their child. This amounts to 20 days or 40 half-days.
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