National Council – Weekly allowance for women on maternity leave: gap closed

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National Council – Weekly allowance for women on maternity leave: gap closed

Previously, if women became pregnant during their parental leave but no longer received childcare benefits, they faced a gap in social security. On Wednesday, the National Council resolved this complaint.

A special weekly allowance for these cases was approved by a large majority. According to the Supreme Court’s interpretation, the previous lacuna is contrary to EU law. Only the NEOS voted against the government proposal.

The mothers who opted for the means-tested maternity benefit and would remain on maternity leave after its expiration were mostly higher income earners who “optimized” the welfare state for their own benefit, NEOS social spokesperson Gerald Loacker said, justifying the pink rejection. By doing this they had “created the trap for themselves” – it was wrong to eliminate personal responsibility. However, all other factions supported the repairs.

New regulations have retroactive effect
The amount of the new special weekly benefit, which can be received between eight weeks before and eight weeks after birth, is based on the increased sickness benefit, which guarantees financial security even during longer sick leave. At the same time, women are compulsorily insured while receiving benefits. The new scheme applies retroactively to September 1, 2022. 70 percent of the costs are covered by the family expenses compensation fund and 30 percent by the woman’s health insurance. The Ministry of Social Affairs expects that approximately 1,300 people will be affected and that the costs will amount to approximately 10.56 million euros per year.

Better care after a miscarriage
The National Council also decided to improve care for women after miscarriages. All parties voted in favor of an amendment to the Social Security Act, which will in future also entitle women to support from a midwife in the event of miscarriages in an advanced stage of pregnancy (from the 18th week of pregnancy). Until now, this only happened with so-called stillbirths (over 500 grams). The new arrangement applies from September 1, 2024.

In the debate on this topic, all parties agreed that the topic of miscarriages should be removed from the taboos in society. About one in six women are affected by pregnancy loss, but the topic is rarely discussed, said Green Party women’s spokeswoman Meri Disoski. The package of measures can therefore only be a first step. Midwives are the professionally qualified people who can respond to the physical changes of women. At the same time, they are also psychologically trained to support affected families, explains Minister of Family Susanne Raab (ÖVP).

SPÖ women’s spokesperson Eva-Maria Holzleitner welcomed the package of measures, as did the FPÖ, which criticized the fact that the regulation would no longer apply from July. Liberal family spokeswoman Rosa Ecker also called for affected women to be entitled to weekly benefits. NEOS MP Fiona Fiedler also took the opportunity to speak out in support of fulfilling the wish to have children.

In the context of the amendment to the Social Security Act, it has also been decided to extend the reimbursement for carrying out corona vaccinations in private practice until the end of March 2025.

Source: Krone

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