Pregnant freelancers, self-employed entitled to maternity benefits: court

Dutch benefits agency UWV wrongly refused to pay maternity leave to pregnant self-employed women and now has to make sure they get "appropriate compensation", the Central Council of Appeals ruled on Thursday in a case about three women who gave birth in 2005, ANP reports.

At the time the women received no maternity benefits, because the Netherlands did not have a legal arrangement for that between August 2004 and June 2008. "By abolishing the existing arrangement for pregnant self-employed workers without compensating them in another form, the Netherlands failed to fulfill its obligation under the UN Women's Convention", the council ruled. 

The three women involved previously took their case all the way to the Supreme Court, but without success. After that they submitted a complaint to the committee that oversees the implementation of the UN Women's Convention. This committee ruled in favor of the women in 2014 and found that they should receive compensation. But the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment did not compensate them.

After that the self-employed women applied at the UWV for the benefits they should have been entitled to in 2005, but the benefits agency rejected these applications. But because the women had no form of maternity leave with income retention, the UWV's rejection is contrary to the law, the Central Council of Appeals ruled on Thursday. The UWV must now make sure that the women are compensated.

The Central Council of Appeals is the highest court in the Netherlands for social law, civil law and parts of the pension law.