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Can you get parental leave as a self-employed worker? Your rights after birth or adoption

Written by Valesca Wilms, Content Manager
Updated on
Read in 3 minutes

As an entrepreneur, your social contributions typically provide less compared to the social benefits you would have as an employee. But what about your social rights if you have a baby or you adopt? Are you also entitled to paid maternity or parental leave? The future is bright, because even as a self-employed person you receive a financial boost.

Am I entitled to maternity leave as a freelancer?

As a businesswoman, you are also entitled to maternity leave: 12 weeks in total, 13 if you give birth to multiple children. 3 of your 12 weeks of maternity leave are part of your compulsory maternity leave. You are obliged to take them:

  • 7 days before the estimated date of birth
  • 2 weeks after the birth

You may take the remaining 9 (or 10) weeks as you choose, as long as you do so in blocks of 7 calendar days. After the birth you get a period of 36 weeks in which you can take the postnatal leave.

Adoption leave and self-employment benefits

Planning to adopt? Even as a self-employed person you are entitled to adoption leave: up to 6 weeks. You can extend this period in some situations. You will also receive an allowance.

What benefit will I receive during my maternity leave?

  • During the first 4 weeks, for each week of maternity leave, you will receive maternity benefits of €767.4 in 2022 – half if you take half-time maternity leave.
  • From the 5th week, you will receive an allowance of €701.92.
  • If you adopt a child, your adoption allowance will be €535.4 per week.

Please note: to be entitled to the benefits mentioned above, you must have paid your social contributions in the second and third trimester of your pregnancy. For adoption, these are the social contributions in the quarter preceding the adoption.

Maternity leave: full-time or half-time?

As a self-employed person, you can take your maternity leave full time or half time. In the first case, you must completely stop your self-employed activity during your leave. Are you going to work half-time during your maternity leave? Then you get 18 half-time weeks of leave.

Extending maternity leave

Does your baby have 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 weeks your baby stayed in the hospital – you don’t need to count the first 7 days.

You can extend your maternity leave by up to 24 weeks, or by 48 if you take your maternity leave half-time.

Your benefits if you have a child as a self-employed person

  • Exemption from social security contributions: during your maternity leave, you do not have to pay social security contributions in the first quarter after giving birth, while retaining your social rights. The catch? Your possible supplementary pension contribution for that quarter is not deductible.
  • Free service cheques: are you picking up your business after your maternity leave and are you paying the social contributions of a self-employed person in a main occupation? Then you get 105 free service cheques for domestic help.
  • Start amount or maternity money: just like everyone else, you get a nice little extra for every child that is born or adopted: For Flanders, this is called the Start Amount (adoption): in 2022, it will be €1,167.32.
  • In Wallonia and Brussels, it is the Maternity Fee or the Adoption Fee: €1,167.32 for each child. In Brussels, that amount only applies to your first child, and you receive €530.60 per subsequent child.

What about birth and paternity leave?

Will you become a father or co-parent and are you self-employed as a main occupation or a working spouse? Then you are entitled to 15 days of paternity or birth leave with benefits. If you take a maximum of 8 days of that leave, you can apply for free service cheques as compensation. Certain conditions apply: ask your social security office if you are eligible for this leave.

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Valesca Wilms, Content Manager
Valesca Wilms, Content Manager

As a Content Manager at Accountable, Valesca offers her readers an exciting and engaging content experience. Given her own experience as a freelance content marketeer & copywriter, Valesca knows the ins and outs of tax returns for the self-employed. It’s her goal to provide you with easy and understandable solutions to handle your tax returns stress-free with Accountable.

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