According to the International Labor Organization, women provide the main source of income for 30% of households globally. As a result, it is important that women are afforded fair and favorable maternity leave. Every country upholds different requirements for maternity and paternity leave.
Italy is considered a top-ranking country in terms of paid maternity leave requirements. Countries with comprehensive and generous maternity leave requirements can benefit from increased gender equality, improved health outcomes, and higher rates of economic productivity.
In this article, you’ll find out how much maternity leave Italians expect to receive, who is eligible to receive maternity leave, and how much employers should pay their employees during their time off.
The length of maternity leave in Italy
Female employees are eligible to receive 5 months of paid maternity leave; typically, the mother will take off 2 months before giving birth and 3 months following the birth. Flexible maternity leave options do exist, and mothers may choose to postpone their leave so that the entire five months are taken off after giving birth. This modification requires a medical certificate for approval.
In certain cases, employees may request to take early maternity leave if their work involves manual labor, such as lifting heavy items. Employees seeking to take extra time off before giving birth must receive a medical certificate and an authorization from the Employment Office.
In addition to the compulsory 5 months, both parents are eligible to take 10 months of voluntary paid leave before the child is 12 years old. Companies are required to approve and provide the voluntary leave if given 15 days of advanced notice.
At the end of the maternity leave period, the employer must offer the returning mother the same position and duties as before. Employees are also protected from being fired from the beginning of the pregnancy until one year after the child’s birth.
Eligibility for maternity leave
All pregnant employees, regardless of length of service, are entitled to maternity leave. Mothers who are expecting multiple babies or those who experience premature births are eligible to receive 12 weeks of additional leave. Additional flexibility is provided to mothers with premature births as they may take any unused prenatal leave after the child’s birth.
Generally, mothers can transfer one day of maternity leave to the father. Under certain conditions, if the mother is prevented from taking maternity leave, the father is entitled to a larger portion of the maternity leave up to the full period. The complete transfer of leave from mother to father can only occur in the case of death, infirmity, or exclusive paternal custody.
Adoptive parents, regardless of length of service, are also entitled to time off. Employees can receive adoption leave for adopting children from within Italy and for international adoptions. For domestic adoptions, the five months of leave may begin following the actual placement of the child. For international adoptions, the five month period can be taken prior to the child’s arrival to comply with foreign adoption procedures and requirements. In the case of adoption, only one of the adoptive parents may take leave.
Maternity leave allowance
During the 5 months of paid maternity leave, employees must receive 80% of their salary. However, employers are usually required to make up the difference in remuneration so that the employee ends up receiving 100% of their normal earnings.
During the 10 months of voluntary parental leave that can be split between both parents, employees receive 30% of their wages for 6 months. The remaining 4 months of leave are not paid.
Support towards childcare costs
Following the birth of the child, parents may also continue to receive childcare support. Parents who do not take the voluntary parental leave receive 600 euro per month for six months. Additional financial support is also available through tax exemptions, and health assistance is guaranteed for free.
Mandatory paternity leave
Increasingly, fathers are expected to play a greater role in raising their children. After giving birth, as the mother recovers from delivery, the father will also need to take on increasing responsibilities and potential caregiving tasks. As a result, it is important for employers to provide paternity leave in addition to maternity leave.
Currently, fathers must take ten days of paid paternity within the first five months of the child’s birth. They may also take one additional day that is transferred from the mother’s maternity leave.
In cases of death, illness, or the father having exclusive custody, the maternity leave is fully transferred to the father. Fathers have the same wage allowance structure, the same right to return to their job, and the same protections against termination as employees on maternity leave.
Parental leave requirements and cultural expectations vary country to country. Progressive governments look to require maternity and paternity leave benefits to address gender gaps within the workforce and at home.
As an employer, it is important to remain aware of the different requirements and account for how you will integrate them into the existing business operations. Providing fair and good parental leave options will ensure that your company remains compliant while attracting top talent.
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