The Commission should review each of the three separate areas addressed in this directive as individual cases to ensure they are given due consideration in the context of equality. Whilst the Committee understands that DG Employment is tasked with addressing social protection, the Committee would like to reinforce that the self employed status should not be discussed in the same context as an employee status.
For rights to be truly addressed, any proposed measures or tools presented must be practical and implementable. The proposed amendments to this directive undoubtedly improve the situation under European law of self-employed women and assisting spouses who have a child and will consequently benefit their children. The EESC considers that the directive's recast is necessary.
Better enforcement of current legislation in areas of gender equality would be more productive in removing inequalities if applied in a greater number of cases. The Commission should therefore ascertain the reasons for the weak implementation.
The question has to be asked as to the cost to Europe of reviewing this directive. The impact assessment presented by the Commission clearly shows that the benefit to member states is marginal.
Self employment by its very nature has many unique qualities, and it is not possible to consider the self-employed in the same way as employees, nor is it possible to consider the self employed as a general term for entrepreneurs.
The Committee understands that it is difficult to conceive how maternity provision for self employed women could function. The business and responsibilities associated with self employment mean a long leave of absence cannot be taken without extensive planning, financial security or appropriate personnel to manage the work. Any such absence could result in the termination of contracts or the loss of the business, particularly when considering very small enterprises, if not managed correctly.
In general the directive does not address the lack of recognition of "assisting spouses", the quality and quantity of their contribution to a business, or policy measures to support these women. The directive does not propose any measures that will improve the social or financial standing or the social protection of assisting spouses.
The Commission should conduct research into the reasoning behind the lack of participation of assisting spouses in the formal economy or voluntary social protection provisions, as well as difficulties in cases where the assisting spouses are separated but are still partners in business.