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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Farmers qualify for maternity/ paternity benefits

Self-employed social insurance contributors – including men and women farmers – can qualify for a wide range of benefits, including maternity/paternity benefits, Minister Heather Humphreys has confirmed.

Sinn Féin’s Matt Carthy recently asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, by means of a parliamentary question, if her department has examined the potential for introducing paid maternity and pension benefits for women working on farms.

In response, the minister outlined that since 2014 and the transposition of EU Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of equal treatment between men and women engaged in self-employment activity, the spouse or civil partner of a self-employed person can benefit from social protection in accordance with the qualifying criteria set in national law.

This means that liability for social insurance contributions has been extended to the spouses and civil partners of self-employed contributors who are not formal business partners or employees, where they perform the same or ancillary tasks.

The liability of spouses and civil partners to make self-employment contributions is subject to the established provisions that apply to all self-employed contributors.

She outlined that this also includes the requirement to declare reckonable annual income of at least €5,000.

Over 16s

The minister explained:

“While these provisions act to facilitate the spouse or civil partner of a self-employed contributor to become a self-employed contributor, I can also advise the deputy that children within farming families that are aged over 16 years can also become self-employed contributors within a family business partnership model.”

“This arrangement applies where at least two family members operate a business in partnership, including farming, and where they share profits of the business or farm.”

In that circumstance, she explained, each business partner is insurable as a self-employed contributor in their own right, provided that each partner reaches the annual reckonable income threshold of €5,000.

She stressed the importance that all farm partnerships are registered on the Register of Farm Partnerships that the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine maintains.

She stated that “while my department keeps all matters under review, I am satisfied that the current legislative provisions concerning family employment and social insurance coverage achieve the necessary balance between establishing a formal and uniform system while acknowledging the informal and varied practicalities inherent in family-operated enterprises, including farming”.

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