Maternity Leave in Italy: English Guide

Maternity Leave in Italy: English Guide titlecard

Maternity leave is a statutory employee benefit almost everywhere in the world, but the terms and conditions of the leave vary from country to country. Various jurisdictions provide different lengths and amounts of maternity pay and specific requirements.

In Italy, female workers can enjoy paid time off to care for their children. If you plan to relocate to Italy and have a child, you must know the specifics of the maternity benefits you can get while being employed there. 

In Italy, the government requires employers to provide women with five months of paid maternity leave. Usually, the mother will take two months off before giving birth and three months after giving birth. Moreover, flexible maternity leave options exist. The mother can postpone her leave to take the entire five months off after giving birth. However, she needs a doctor’s note to do this.

Italy is an excellent place to move in. Living here is affordable, and the country warmly welcomes expats. If you want to relocate and build your family here, you should read about everything you need to know on maternity leave in Italy. 

Maternity leave in Italy in 2023: Guide

Employees who give birth can receive five months of paid maternity leave (congedo di maternità). You may choose from these two options on how you will utilize these five months: 

  • Two months before and three months after the expected delivery date.
  • Take one month before and four months after the expected delivery date. Nevertheless, mothers need to submit a medical certificate that proves the maternity leave is crucial to a baby’s well-being before the delivery date.

Aside from those two options, mothers in Italy can also choose to be flexible in consuming these five months. The only catch is they need a medical certificate so the leave will be approved. 

Occasionally, employees whose jobs require manual labor, such as lifting heavy objects, may request early maternity leave. Employees who wish to take additional time off before giving birth must provide a medical certificate and obtain authorization from the Employment Office. 

Furthermore, both parents are entitled to take 10 months of voluntary paid leave before the child turns 12. If given 15 days’ notice, employers must approve and provide voluntary leave. 

After maternity leave ends, the employer must offer the returning mother the same position and duties as before. In addition, employers can’t terminate female employees during pregnancy or a year after their child is born.

These rules enable you to be fully protected from losing your job while having a baby.

When it comes to maternity leave pay, as an employee who takes the leave, you have the right to receive an allowance equal to 80% of your salary.

However, if part of a collective labor agreement, you will get more favorable assistance of up to 100%. In addition, it’s common for employers to cover the remaining 20%.

Another interesting fact about maternity leave in Italy is that it can be converted into paternity leave (no matter if the mother is a full-time employee or a freelancer) in three circumstances:

  • Death or severe illness of the mother of the child;
  • When a mother abandons her child; or 
  • A court judgment grants full custody to the father.

What is paternity leave? It’s a period of leave granted to a father. It can happen after or shortly before the birth of the child.

Eligibility for paid maternity leave in Italy

Maternity leave is available to all pregnant employees regardless of the length of service. Those expecting multiple babies or premature births are entitled to 12 weeks of additional leave.

For mothers with premature deliveries, additional flexibility is available as they can take any unused prenatal leave after the birth of their child. 

Moreover, it’s generally possible for mothers to give the father one day of maternity leave. In some instances, if the mother is unable to take maternity leave, the father may be able to receive the entire maternity leave under certain conditions.

A complete parental leave transfer can occur in instances of death, infirmity, or exclusive paternal custody. 

Adoptive parents are also entitled to time off, regardless of the length of service. An employee may take adoption leave if they adopt a child from within Italy or abroad. The five months of leave may start after the actual placement of the child in domestic adoption.

If you are adopting internationally, you can take five months before arriving at the child’s home to meet foreign adoption procedures and requirements. However, only one of the adoptive parents may take leave when adopting a child.

How long is maternity leave in Italy?

As a female employee, you are entitled to 5 months of paid maternity leave in Italy. You can either take it in full or split it into several parts, e.g., 2 months before the birth and 3 months after.

Maternity leave benefits in Italy

Mother playing with her baby

Here are the different benefits you can take in relation to your maternity leave in Italy.

1. Baby bonus

The baby bonus (bonus bebe) is also known as the childbirth allowance and refers to the payment made to any infant born or adopted during that year from when the child is born or adopted until the child reaches their first birthday. 

Anagrafe Tributaria, the local fiscal office, distributes the allowance. It’s available to Italian citizens, EU citizens, and non-EU citizens with valid Italian residence permits. Those who have had a child born, adopted a child, or taken a child into foster care are eligible. To make a claim visit the INPS website.

2. Maternity indemnity

Mothers can receive up to 80% of their average daily wage during maternity leave. The Italian compulsory maternity leave lasts a maximum of five months; usually, the mother leaves work two months before the birth and returns within three months.

You can also take a month off from work before the birth and then take up to four months off once the baby is born.

Maternity leave can be extended between the two parents by up to 11 months and must be within the first eight years of the child’s life. The indemnification applies to parents adopting a child (for three months beginning on the date of adoption) and to the father. 

It’s necessary to apply for Italian maternity benefits at the local INPS (Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale) office.

Pregnant women must provide a medical certificate confirming their pregnancy and a statement from their employer stating that they have stopped working.

As soon as the child is born, the INPS must receive the birth certificate and the certificate of family status (certificato di stato di famiglia), which are available from the local registry office.

3. Parental leave

During the first 8 years of your child’s life, you and your partner may take parental leave. You both have a maximum of 11 months. On the other hand, if you adopt a child, you also have the right to take parental leave.

However, the conditions will depend on the age of the child you adopted. The salary you may receive for parental leave is up to 30% of your daily wage. 

4. Special rest

In the first year following the child’s birth, you may take two hours of rest a day if you work a six-hour shift or more. You can only get a one-hour rest if you work less than six hours. This benefit also applies in the case of adopting a child. 

5. Child sickness

When your child is sick, you might be unable to focus on work. It’s normal to take a leave from work and take time to care for your baby. The only requirement is to present a medical certificate. This certificate will prove that you will attend or attend to a sick child. 

If your child is between 3 and 8 years old, you may take up to five working days of the carer’s leave. On the other hand, if the child is below 3, you have unlimited leaves. 

6. Children with a handicap

A severely handicapped child’s parents may benefit from an extension of the parental leave or may take one or two paid hours off work per day until the child is three years old. You may take three days off from work per month if your child is above three years of age.

Parents who need time off to look after their disabled child can take up to two years off. Moreover, you may take time off at any time.

7. Specific financial help

A financial assistance program (Assegno di Maternità), run by the Ministry of Work and Social Affairs, is available to families in financial need. If you meet the following criteria, you may avail of this special financial help: 

  • a jobless parent;
  • a family with more than three children under the age of 18; and 
  • your family’s income does not exceed a certain amount
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