Maternity leave is the period of mandatory leave from work acknowledged to female dependent workers during pregnancy and puerperium period. In the presence of certain conditions that prevent the mother from benefiting from the leave, the abstention from work rests with the father (paternity leave). The right to leave and the relevant compensation is also provided for in the event of adoption or custody of minors.
The mandatory leave for female dependent workers is enshrined in the Consolidated Act on Maternity and Paternity (Italian Legislative Decree No. 151 of 26 March 2001) which prohibits employers from assigning women to work during the period of maternity leave.
From 14 June 2017, date of entry into force of Law No. 81 of 22 May 2017, maternity leave is no longer mandatory for female workers registered in the Separate Pension Scheme. The relevant indemnity, therefore, is acknowledged regardless of the actual abstention from work.
The following are entitled to maternity leave:
- female dependent workers who are insured by INPS also for maternity, including women workers insured under IPSEMA;
- apprentices, workers, dependent workers, managers with an ongoing employment relationship at the beginning of the leave;
- unemployed or suspended female dependent workers, according to the provisions of Article 24 of the aforementioned Consolidated Maternity / Paternity Act (TU);
- permanent agricultural female workers or fixed-term contract workers who, in the year of commencement of leave, hold the status of farm hand with registration in the annual nominative lists for at least 51 days of agricultural work (article 63 of the TU);
- female domestic and family service workers (domestic workers and carers), in accordance with Article 62 of the TU;
- female home workers (Article 61 of the TU);
- female LSU workers or APUs (community work or activities deemed as socially useful pursuant to Art. 65 of the TU);
- female workers enrolled in the INPS Separate Pension Scheme and non-retired dependent workers who meet the contribution requirement provided for by law to finance economic maternity benefits. The relevant compensation is acknowledged regardless of the actual abstention from work;
- female workers employed by public administrations (including ex dependent workers of INPDAP and ENPALS) who are required to comply with the law in the event of maternity in respect of the public administration they depend on and from which they receive the relevant compensation, corresponding to the payment, according to the provisions of Arts. 2 and 57 of the TU.
START DATE AND DURATION
According to the provisions of Arts. 16 and following of the TU, maternity leave begins two months before the presumed date of birth (except flexibility). The period of abstention may concern gestation periods prior to two months if the anticipated disqualification is ordered by the Local Health Authority, if the pregnancy is at risk, or by the Regional Department of Employment if the duties are incompatible with the pregnancy.
After giving birth, the leave lasts:
- three months (except flexibility) and, in the event of a birth after the expected date, the days between the presumed and actual date;
- three months plus the days not taken, if the birth is earlier than the expected date (premature or early childbirth). This also in the case in which the sum of the three months following the birth and days between the effective date and the presumed date of birth exceeds the limit of five months;
- the entire prohibition period extended by the Regional Department of Employment (for tasks incompatible with puerperium).
The budget law for 2019 has introduced, as an alternative to the usual methods of use referred to in Article 16, paragraph 1, Italian Legislative decree No.151/2001, the option for mothers to abstain from work exclusively after birth, within the five months following it, provided that the medical specialist of the National Health Service, or in agreement with the latter, and the relevant doctor for purposes of prevention and health protection in the workplace certify that this option does not prejudice the health of the pregnant mother and of the unborn child (INPS circular No. 148 of 12 December 2019).
In the case of twin births, the duration of maternity leave does not vary.
The date of birth is a separate day compared to the two months of antepartum and three months postpartum and, therefore, this day must always be added to the usual five months of maternity leave.
If the newborn is hospitalised in either a public or private facility, the mother may even partially suspend postpartum leave (Article 16 bis, paragraph 1 of the TU) and resume work. The mother will benefit from the period of residual leave starting from the the child leaves. This right can be exercised only once for each child, only if the mother's health conditions are compatible with the resumption of work (article 16 bis, paragraph 2 of the TU) and ascertained by a medical certificate.
In the event of adoption or assignment, the suspension of the period of maternity leave due to the minor’s recovery is envisaged only for female workers and dependent workers, provided that the working activity has been resumed (Article 26, paragraph 6 bis).
Those enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme who intend to abstain from work have the right to suspend and postpone maternity / paternity periods in accordance with Article 16 bis of the Consolidated Act. The obligation to certify the child's hospitalisation and medical attestation stating the compatibility of the woman's state of health with the resumption of work, in respect of customers, remains with the institution, while in respect of the Institute it is only required only to notify the date of beginning and end of the suspension period (INPS circular No. 109 of 16 November 2018).
In the event of interrupting pregnancy after 180 days from the beginning of the gestation or death of the child at birth or during maternity leave, female workers - dependent workers or those registered with the Separate Pension Scheme - can abstain from work for the entire period of maternity leave, unless they waive the right to take maternity leave (Article 16, paragraph 1 bis of the Consolidated Act, amended by Italian Legislative Decree No. 119 of 18 July 2011).
According to Law No. 184 of 4 May 1983, for the adoption or national foster care of a minor the maternity leave is due for five months starting from the entry into the family of the minor adopted or entrusted before the adoption.
For adoptions or international pre-adoptive foster care, leave is due for five months starting from the entry into Italy of the adopted or entrusted minor, with the period of leave that can also be used partially before the entry into Italy of the minor. If the foster care is not pre-adoptive, the leave is due to female workers and dependent workers for three months, even split over five months, starting from the custody of the child. Workers enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme are not entitled to the above leave.
For further information, see INPS circular No. 16 of 4 February 2008 implementing Article 26 TU.
Paternity leave (governed by articles 28 and following of the TU) is acknowledged when events occur concerning the mother of the child and it is in the case of:
- death or serious illness of the mother. The applicant father, when completing the claim, provides information on the mother and the date of death. The health certificate of serious illness must be submitted in a sealed envelope to the INPS legal medical centre, at the counter or by registered letter;
- abandonment of the child by the mother, to be certified by completing the statement of liability on-line;
- exclusive custody of the child to the father (Art. 155 bis of the Italian Civil Code), who discloses the identifying elements of the provision stating the judicial authority, the section, the type and number of provisions, the date of deposit in the registry. However, to speed up the definition of the claim, the parent can attach a certified copy to the original of the court order.
In the event of adoption or foster care of minors, in addition to the events listed above, paternity leave can be used by the father following the total or partial waiver by the working mother to the maternity leave to which she is entitled. The waiver is confirmed by filling in the statement of liability on-line.
The paternity leave, which runs from the date on which one of the events listed above occurs, lasts as long as the period of maternity leave not used by the working mother, even if self-employed with the right to the compensation provided for in Article 66 of the TU. If the mother is not working, paternity leave ends three months after giving birth.
If the child is admitted to a hospital, paternity leave may be suspended, even partially, until the child resigns.
For fathers, the law of 28 June 2012, No. 92, has also experimentally introduced measures to support parenting that have also been extended for 2021 by law 178/2020 (2021 budget law), the details of which can be found on the page relating to Father's leave.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
During periods of maternity leave (or paternity) the female worker (or male worker) has the right to receive a compensation equal to 80% of the average daily global payment calculated on the basis of the last pay period prior to the start of the maternity leave, therefore, usually, the last month of work preceding the month of commencement of the leave (Articles 22 and following of the TU). For those enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme , if income derives from free-lance activities or coordinated and continuous para-subordinate collaboration, leave compensation is 80% of 1/365 of the income.
The compensation is advanced in the pay packet by the employer, also for former IPSEMA insured women employed by employers who have chosen the payment with the CA2G adjustment method (INPS circular No. 173 of 23 October 2015).
Instead, it is paid directly by INPS by bank transfer or credit to a bank or post office account to:
- seasonal workers;
- agricultural workers (without prejudice to the right of advancing compensation, on the employer's behalf, in favour of agricultural workers on permanent contracts);
- occasional or temporary entertainment sector female workers;
- female domestic and family service workers (domestic workers and carers);
- female unemployed or suspended workers;
- ex IPSEMA insured female workers employed by employers who did not choose to pay compensation with the CA2G adjustment method.
For male and female workers registered in the Separate Pension Scheme, payment is always made directly by INPS.
Periods of stay abroad are compensated as maternity leave only if they are followed by a provision for adoption or foster care that is valid in Italy.
The right to the compensation expires within one year and starts from the day following the end of the maternity leave (or paternity). To avoid losing the right, it is necessary for workers to submit to INPS (before the end of the year) written claims with a certain date, aimed at obtaining payment of the compensation.
An employment relationship is required for female and male workers/ dependent workers.
For female domestic service and family workers (domestic workers and carers), 26 weekly contributions are required in the year prior to the start of maternity leave or 52 weekly contributions in the two years prior to the start of the leave (Article 62 of the TU).
In the presence of the aforementioned contribution requirement, the maternity allowance is due regardless of the existence of an ongoing employment relationship.
For female agricultural temporary workers, in the year of commencement of leave, having the status of farm hand is required, as evidenced by registration in annual nominative lists for at least 51 days of agricultural work.
For unemployed or suspended female workers, maternity leave must begin within 60 days of the last day of work. If there is a right to unemployment benefits, redundancy or Severance pay for civil servants (IBU), the leave may begin after more than 60 days. For unemployed women who have carried out work excluded from the unemployment contribution in the last two years, the right to maternity compensation is due only if maternity leave began within 180 days from the last day of work and INPS was paid 26 weekly contributions in the two years preceding the beginning of the leave.
For female workers and male workers enrolled exclusively in the INPS Separate Pension Scheme and who are not retired, the right to maternity / paternity allowance is due if at least one monthly contribution including the aforementioned increased rate (automatic nature of benefits, article 64-ter of the Consolidated Act, introduced by Italian Legislative decree No. 80 of 15 June 2015) are actually credited or due to Separate Pension Scheme in the 12 months prior to the month of commencement of maternity (or paternity) leave. For further information or clarifications, please refer to the INPS Circular, No. 42 of 26 February 2016 and to the INPS Circular, No. 71 of 3 June 2020.
For ex IPSEMA insured female dependent workers, employed by employers who choose compensation payments with the CA2G balance (INPS circular No. 173 of 23 December 2013), the regional relevance for managing the cases is that envisaged for most workers, established on the basis of the insured’s residence.
WHEN CAN I CLAIM?
The claim must be submitted before the two months preceding the expected date of birth and in any case never more than a year after the end of the period to be compensated, under penalty of the prescription of the right to the compensation.
Before the beginning of the period of maternity leave, the worker must send to the Institute a medical certificate of pregnancy, through a doctor of the National Health Service or in agreement with the latter, which will provide for its electronic submission.Female workers are required to notify the child's birth date and relevant personal information within 30 days from the birth.
HOW CAN I CLAIM?
Female and male workers may submit their maternity / paternity leave claim on-line to INPS through the dedicated service. The service menu contains the following items:
- Information, page describing the services provided for the various categories of workers in the event of birth, adoption or foster care;
- Manuals, a page where users can consult and download the manuals on how to use the “retrieve claim” function available for each employee category;
- Obtain claim, a feature that allows the completion and submission of the parental leave claim for the various categories of workers;
- Cancel claims, a function that allows users to cancel the claim inserted;
- Consult claims, a function that allows users to verify the claims entered and sent to the INPS.
The claim provides for the possibility of attaching a digitised copy of documentation deemed useful for a swift definition of the procedure, such as early / postponed prohibition measures, authorisation for entry into Italy of the adopted minor or in pre-adoptive foster care issued by the Commission for International Adoptions, certification of entry into the family of the minor adopted / entrusted in foster care and so on.
Alternatively, claim can be made by:
- Calling the contact centre on +39 803 164 (free from Italian landlines) or +39 06 164 164 from mobile phones;
- On-line services offered by patronage institutes and intermediaries of the Institute.
Ex IPSEMA male and female dependent workers who work for employers who choose the payment of compensation with the CA2G adjustment may submit the claim for mandatory maternity / paternity leave on-line to INPS in the manner described above. Instead, the claim is paper-based for ex IPSEMA insured female and male dependent workers, who work for employers who waive the payment of compensation with the CA2G adjustment and the area relevance depends on the operating instructions provided with INPS circular No. 173 of 23 October 2015. The paper claim must include the medical pregnancy certificate and any other medical health certification required for the provision of economic maternity / paternity benefits and can be submitted as originals at the relevant INPS office, at the desk or by registered post in a sealed envelope. The envelope containing the medical health certification must state the protocol number issued by the on-line sending procedure and the wording "Documentation of claim for maternity / paternity leave - medical health certification" (for the privacy law).