Italy: What are the changes in regulations to ensure that working fathers can take a more proactive role in family responsibilities?
Statutory paternity leave is a first milestone on the trail to incentive men to assume an equal share of caring responsibilities. Statutory paternity leave in Italy comes fully into effect. In the event of childbirth, adoption or custody, father-employee is entitled to paid statutory leave of 10 working days (or 20 working days in case of multiple births). Statutory paternity leave must be taken in the timeframe between two months prior to the expected date of confinement and five months after the actual date of birth. To exercise such right, the father employee shall inform the employer in writing of the days on which he intends to take leave, no less than five days in advance, where possible in relation to the birth event, based on the presumed date of delivery. Applied NCBA may provide more favourable terms for employees. The written communication notice may be replaced by the use, where existing, of the company’s information system for requesting and managing absences.
Father employee is also entitled to use statutory maternity leave or the rest of it when (i) the mother does not take it; (ii) she dies, or she is affected by a serious illness; (iii) she abandons the child; or (iv) the father has exclusive custody of the child.
To support employees in fulfilling family responsibilities, Italy made some changes also in regulating parental leave which is granted for the first 12 years of the child’s life. For single parent, the employee can take up to 11 months parental leave. In case of shared parental leave, the overall duration has remained at 10 months (11 months if the father takes at least 3 months parental leave). Some changes have been made in relation to the allowance paid during parental leave. Period of leave covered by such allowance that is paid at rate of 30% of the salary has been extended from 6 to 9 months and it can be taken in the first 12 years of the child’s life, instead of the first 6. Since 2023, moreover, one of the parents is entitled to 1-month parental leave paid at the rate of 80% (instead of 30%) if the leave is taken during the first 6 years of the child’s life.
Employees with lower income are entitled to receive the allowance for the whole parental leave beyond the 9-months period.
In addition to leave, Italian legislation laid down further requirements also related to flexible working arrangements to facilitate reconciliation between work and family life. At least the pandemic has had its own positive effects by increasing legislator awareness of the importance of addressing the needs of both workers and employers by making more accessible flexible working patterns including remote working arrangements or reduction in working hours. Parents employees requesting for flexible working arrangements must be prioritized by employers in offering such arrangements.
Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-house Counsel
- Parents employees who request flexible working arrangements cannot be sanctioned, demoted, dismissed, transferred or subjected to other organizational measures that worsen their working conditions. In case of breach, it could be considered as an act of retaliation or discrimination.
- Legislation put in place to protect parents are not for mothers only: dismissal is null and void if it is served to male employees who took statutory paternity leave (from the period of the leave’s start date up to one year after the child’s birth) or because he requested parental leave or leave for child’s sickness.
- Refusal, opposition or hindrance to exercise the rights of paternity leave would expose the employer to penalties.