Maternity protection is a period of leave from work granted to workers enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme during pregnancy and the postpartum period and, from 14 June 2017, the relative maternity/paternity allowance is paid by the Institute regardless of the actual leave from work.
In the presence of certain conditions that prevent the mother from benefiting from maternity, the protection rests with the father (paternity leave). The right to leave and the relevant compensation are also provided for in the event of adoption or custody of minors.
Maternity and paternity protection is due to the workers enrolled in the INPS Separate Pension Scheme (Gestione Separata), not retired and not enrolled in other forms of mandatory social security who meet the contribution requirement provided for by law to finance economic maternity benefits.
In order to access maternity/paternity protection, at least one month's contribution with full-rate needs to be attributed in the separate pension scheme referred to in Article 2, paragraph 26, of Law 335/1995, in the 12 months prior to the beginning of the maternity/paternity period.
By virtue of applying the automatic nature of the services provided for by Article 64-ter of Legislative Decree no. 151/2001, the recognition of the right to the maternity or paternity allowance is guaranteed to workers and para-subordinate workers even in the event of non-payment of the monthly contribution by the client. The automation of service does not apply in favour of workers enrolled in Separate Pension Scheme (Gestione Separata), who are responsible for the fulfilment of the contribution obligation, such as, for example, freelance professionals registered with the same Pension Scheme.
START DATE AND DURATION
In accordance with the provisions of Article 64 of the Consolidated Act, the maternity/paternity protection takes place in the forms and according to the methods provided for employment, regardless of the actual leave from work, in terms of maternity allowance.
The maternity period starts two months before the expected delivery date and ends three months after the actual delivery date. The eligible period may be longer than five months plus the day of delivery, if:
- the actual delivery date is after the expected delivery date. In addition, the days between the two dates are compensated;
- the delivery date is before the expected delivery date. Days not taken before the expected date are added after three months of the postnatal period, even if the delivery takes place before the start of the eligible maternity period.
Pregnant workers have the right to postpone the beginning of the maternity period:
- to the month before the expected delivery date (so-called Flexibility), provided that the continuation of work during the eighth month of gestation does not cause harm to the health of the worker or the unborn child (see Article 20 of Legislative Decree 151/2001 and paragraph 2.2. of the INPS circular no. 109 of 16 November 2018);
- to the actual delivery date (or the expected delivery date) in order to benefit from 5 months of maternity after the delivery date (or after the expected delivery date). Also in this case the option can be applied if the continuation of work does not cause harm to the health of the worker or the unborn child (see Article 16, paragraph 1.1. of Legislative Decree 151/2001 and paragraph 2 of the INPS circular no. 148 of 12 December 2019).
In relation to the flexibility options or the use of the maternity period exclusively after delivery as mentioned above, it should be noted that it is not necessary to produce the medical certifications required by law to the INPS, since the Institute is still required to pay the maternity allowance regardless of the actual leave from work. The worker who chooses to make use of these options is in any case required to notify the Institute (by ticking the specific option in the electronic maternity allowance claim procedure), in order to identify the reference period (which coincides with the entire 12 months prior to the start of the different maternity period communicated by the person concerned) in which to verify the presence of the contribution requirement and the reference salary/income.
The period of maternity leave may also be extended in the presence of measures of early or extended disqualification from work, which may concern:
- gestation periods prior to the beginning of the maternity period if the Local Health Authority orders (by administrative measure and not with medical certification) the early disqualification from work due to pregnancy at risk (see Article 17, paragraph 2, letter a) of Legislative Decree 151/2001);
- periods prior to the beginning of the eligible period of maternity or periods subsequent to the eligible period of maternity (up to the seventh month of the child's life) if the Territorial Labour Inspectorate provides for early/extended disqualification from work for tasks incompatible with pregnancy (see Article 17, paragraph 2, letters b) and c) of Legislative Decree no. 151/2001). This type of disqualification is not recognised for freelance professionals registered with the Separate Pension Scheme.
For maternity periods falling wholly or partly in 2022, the maternity allowance may be claimed for a further three months from the end of the maternity period, provided that in the year preceding the start of the maternity period the declared income is less than €8,145 (increased by 100% of the rise resulting from the annual change in the ISTAT consumer price index for blue- and white-collar households). For further information, please refer to the INPS circular no. 1 of 3 January 2022.
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 ante partum and three months postpartum and, therefore, this day must always be added to the usual five months of eligible maternity.
If the newborn is hospitalised in either a public or private facility, the mother who chooses to abstain from work, may even partially suspend the eligible post-partum leave (Article 16 bis, paragraph 1 of the Consolidated Law) and resume work. The mother may benefit from the period of residual maternity starting from the date of the child's discharge. 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.
The workers enrolled in Separate Pension Scheme (Gestione Separata) 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 Law. 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 termination of pregnancy, after 180 days from the start of the pregnancy or the death of the child at birth or during the eligible period of maternity, the worker enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme is still entitled to the allowance for the entire period of maternity.
In case of adoption or national foster care of a minor, the maternity allowance 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 foster care, the allowance is due for five months starting from the entry into Italy of the adopted or entrusted minor, with the eligible period that can also be used partially before the entry into Italy of the minor.
Non-pre-adoptive foster care is not offered to workers enrolled in the Separate Pension Scheme.
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 online;
- 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.
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 mother enrolled in the separate pension scheme for the eligible period to the maternity leave to which she is entitled. The waiver is confirmed by filling in the statement of liability on-line.
Paternity leave, which runs from the date on which one of the events listed above occurs, lasts as long as the eligible period of maternity not used by the working mother. 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 is discharged.
WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?
During the eligible periods of maternity (or paternity) the worker is entitled to receive an allowance equal to 80% of 1/365 of the income deriving from coordinated and continuous collaboration or free-lance activities, useful for contribution purposes, i.e. within the limits of the set annual ceiling.
In the case of coordinated and continuous collaboration, the income of the aforementioned 12 months resulting from the contribution payments referred to the worker concerned, based on the client's declaration, is taken as a reference.
In the case of free-lance activities, 1/12 of the income from the tax return for free-lance activities relating to the year/s when the aforementioned 12 months are included is taken as a reference for each of the months of interest.
For more details, please see INPS Circular No. 93 of 26 May 2003.
The allowance is paid directly by the INPS by bank transfer or credit to a bank or post office account.
Periods of stay abroad are compensated as eligible period of maternity only if they are followed by a provision for adoption or foster care that is valid in Italy.
The right to compensation expires within one year and starts from the day following the end of the maternity (or paternity) period that can be compensated. 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.
The right to maternity/paternity allowance also applies in the event that at the time of the eligible event (two months before the delivery date or the date of entry into the child's family for adoption/foster care) the working mother is no longer registered under the Separate Pension Scheme referred to in Law 335/1995, but has nevertheless accrued the required minimum contribution requirement.
However, the right to the allowance does not apply if you are entitled to maternity benefits of a higher amount by virtue of a different work activity (employed or self-employed) subsequently undertaken. Otherwise, at the request of the person concerned, the differential treatment will be payable by the Separate Pension Scheme, up to the amount that would have been due to her as a worker registered in the Separate Pension Scheme.
In the event that, at the date of the eligible event, the parasubordinated worker is at the same time an employed or self-employed worker, she will be entitled to maternity allowance limited to employed or self-employed work, since the Decree of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of 4 April 2002 excludes the protection of maternity for workers enrolled in other compulsory social security schemes and for pensioners. In this case, in fact, registration in the Separate Pension Scheme does not entail the payment of the increased contribution provided for the protection of maternity.
For female workers and male workers enrolled exclusively in the 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 increased rate (automatic nature of benefits, article 64-ter of the Consolidated Law, introduced by Italian Legislative decree No. 80 of 15 June 2015) is 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.
WHEN CAN I CLAIM?
The claim must be sent before the two months preceding the expected delivery date and in any case never more than one year after the end of the period for which maternity allowance is payable, under penalty of prescribing the right to the allowance.
Before the beginning of the eligible period of maternity, 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 allowance claim on-line to the INPS through the dedicated service. The service menu contains the following entries:
- 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 inserted 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, claims 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 thereof.
The deadline to define the decision was set at 55 days by the Regulation for the definition of the terms to conclude the administrative proceedings adopted by INPS pursuant to Article 2 of Law no. 241/1990.
The table (pdf 205KB) attached to the Regulation shows both the deadlines for defining the decisions established by the Institute that are longer than the normal 30-day period, and the indication of the relative manager.