POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - INSTITUTIONS

Post-pandemic recovery

Professional chambers submit proposals to help self-employed



When it comes to social protection, the self-employed are still at a disadvantage compared to those in more formal employment.  Shutterstock

When it comes to social protection, the self-employed are still at a disadvantage compared to those in more formal employment.  Shutterstock

The Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts want to help promote a legislative and regulatory framework that they regard as favourable to their members while also being conducive to economic growth.

Luxembourg’s leading professional chambers have submitted six measures to enhance social protection for self-employed workers. They are advocating improved status that will reduce what the chambers say are the inequalities that currently exist between the self-employed and employees concerning protection against “social risks”.

The term self-employed covers a wide variety of professions and includes “sole proprietors”--such as restaurateurs, cafe owners, electricians and bakers--as well as the intellectual and liberal professionals. But it also applies to some individuals operating under mandates within commercial companies, craft companies, agricultural firms, intellectual businesses and many managers, CEOs and directors.

“While entrepreneurship in Luxembourg is currently under threat, particularly in view of the precarious status of self-employment as regards social protection, this situation has clearly been exacerbated by the impact of the covid-19 health crisis,” a joint statement from the Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts reads.

While they acknowledge that recent measures granted to the self-employed such as supplementary pension, parental leave, leave for family reasons and the introduction of social assistance have levelled the playing field to some extent, the chambers say that the self-employed are still at a disadvantage compared to those in more formal employment.

Comprehensive review

They are now calling for a comprehensive review of the social protection of self-employed workers and have submitted six concrete measures to the government, which were drafted in cooperation with the UEL employers’ association and other employers’ groups. The proposals suggest that the government should:

1.     Make it possible for self-employed workers to combine an early old-age pension with professional income by putting in place a rule enabling overlapping of benefits.

2. Better define the status of the assisting spouse by adjusting the latter’s maximum contribution threshold, introducing a tier-based model and repealing the “division of income” principle.

3. Encourage self-employed workers to join the “Mutualité des Employeurs”.

4. Extend all “short-time work”, “weather-related layoff” and “involuntary and temporary layoff” mechanism benefits to self-employed workers.

5. Bring the full unemployment package available to self-employed workers more in line with that of employees.

6. Set up a professional reclassification scheme for “self-employed workers” in order to cover temporary loss of income and productivity.

The chambers say that their proposals, which would facilitate a complete overhaul of the status of the self-employed, are designed to be constructive and that some may require “deeper analysis and dialogue with stakeholders”.